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


Norridge Improvement Party slate shows sharp turn to the left

NIP 2021 candidates have liberal Democrats leading the charge

The Norridge Improvement Party has been able portray itself as Republican or conservative for most of its existence, as a bulwark against a Chicago liberal Democratic takeover of Norridge government.

Longtime Norridge Village President Joe Sieb famously rejected attempts by Chicago’s Richard J Daley to annex Norridge into Chicago.

I am old enough to remember Joe Sieb. My grandparents, who moved here in 1965, loved Sieb and his determination to keep Norridge safe, with a low cost of living… and free of Chicago domination. Joe was the mayor for three generations of my family.

Democratic Organization’s Avino and Feller, with their already appointed candidate Tannhauser

Sieb started the “Norridge Improvement Party”, but today, it’s nothing like Joe Sieb’s party. Yet, the current leaders and members of that party have the audacity to claim themselves as “the legacy of Joe Sieb”.

Fast forward to 2020, and the Party itself has been taken over from the inside – by those very liberal Chicago-aligned Democrats they claimed to oppose. What happened?

In 2019, the first openly liberal Democrats Jack Bielak and Bill Larson landed on the Village board, after they had their opponents thrown off the ballot. I registered as a write-in candidate to give voters an independent, conservative option, much more in line with the views and values of Joe Sieb’s Norridge.

Larson and Bielak were supported by the liberal Robert Martwick. They were strongly supported by the Democratic Organization’s Chicago 38th Ward chapter, a liberal political action group.

They were in addition supported by the Norwood Park Democratic Organization, nominally headed by liberal Frank Avino, who is also the Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman.

Now for 2021, the Norridge Improvement Party has announced its candidates will include current Village President appointee Daniel Tannhauser at the top of the ticket, a liberal Democrat and strong Martwick supporter.

Tannhauser’s mansion was practically covered in Martwick signs during the 2020 Democratic Primary election against Danny O’Toole.

NPT Democratic Organization’s Frank Avino himself is running for Norridge village trustee.

From what I and others have observed, however, the reality is the Norwood Park Township chapter is all but run by Martwick and the 38th ward chapter’s president David Feller.

Madigan’s Democratic Organization is supporting the Norridge Improvement Party candidates

Avino looks and acts like a Martwick and Feller puppet. Martwick is closely aligned to Mike Madigan and tax-happy liberal Democrat IL governor JB Pritzker.

For those not aware: the Democratic Organization is Madigan’s political group. And Feller, by all accounts, is running the Norridge Improvement Party campaign.

That’s quite a transformation of the NIP in just two years, from a not-quite-conservative-but-not-quite-liberal party, to a Madigan/Marwick-aligned liberal political action group.

It will be interesting to see just how Tannhauser, Avino, and their political machines will attempt to convince less-informed voters with their “conservative” mask, in front of their liberal faces.

Will Norridge survive takeover by the left?

If Tannhauser and Avino are elected to the Village board in 2021, liberal Democrats will have complete control of the Village of Norridge government.

We’ll become a satellite of Chicago’s 38th ward in policy… if not name.

Will you be able afford to live in Norridge with a liberal left government firmly in place? Maybe it’s time to support some real conservatives for Norridge government.

Otherwise, if you think your taxes are high now, with crime on the rise, just wait until Martwick, through Tannhauser, Avino, and their liberal friends Bielak and Larson (already on the board), consolidate their takeover.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge

 


Village Board passes Norridge face covering requirement

Individual violators face fines between $25 to $750, business owners criminal penalties

The Village of Norridge board of trustees, at the August 26th board meeting, unanimously passed an ordinance requiring all persons inside Norridge to wear a face covering, with some exceptions.

Norridge now requires face coverings

Residents must wear a mask when:

  • Visiting a store or health care provider
  • Picking up food at a drive-through
  • Using public transportation, such as a bus, taxi, or ride-sharing services
  • Public-facing employees of businesses and churches when interacting with customers and coworkers

Residents must also wear a covering outside “while other people are present”.

Exceptions include:

  • Children under 2, and adults with qualifying medical conditions
  • Walking or running while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance
  • When eating or drinking, inside or outside
  • Alone or with members of the same household

Violators may be fined from $25 to $750. Businesses face a Class A misdemeanor criminal penalty and up to $2,500 fine.