Lester: State Senate candidate claimed double homeowner exemptions
A candidate running for state Senate wrote a $2,595 check to the Cook County Assessor on Friday after I called to ask him about improperly claiming two primary homeowner exemptions for a number of years.
Steve Caramelli, who's running against Cristina Castro of Elgin in the 22nd District Democratic primary, listed homes in both Hoffman Estates and Chicago as primary residences during property tax years 2010 to 2014, records show. Caramelli, who rents out the Chicago property, wasn't aware of the issue, spokesman Ryan Keith said, and took care of it as soon as he learned.
Caramelli's not the only politician to run into this problem in recent years. In fact, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner was claiming exemptions on a Winnetka home, a Chicago penthouse and a condo on a separate floor of the same building for a number of years. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth also claimed two homeowner exemptions from 2007 to 2010 in DeKalb and Hoffman Estates. Like Caramelli, both paid the amount owed after the Daily Herald pointed out the errors.
A Prospect Heights amusement company that supplies rides and games to local fairs and festivals could have its season cut short. The reason? Technical difficulties.
Fantasy Amusements employs about three dozen foreign workers per season from Mexico and South Africa. While owners Bill and Mary Johnson are normally allowed to apply for workers in the fall, they received a letter this year informing them that the Department of Labor has been experiencing "technical network problems" which have delayed the processing of temporary nonimmigrant visa applications for employers.
"My season is going to be one third over before I even have a staff to work," Mary Johnson says. "We've become very dependent on our seasonal workforce."
A full three years after getting initial approval from the village, the hot dog joint replacing the former Jimmy's Place at Northwest Highway and Euclid in Arlington Heights is edging closer to opening. Owner John Fridono said the target debut date for Big Ange's, named after his wife, is "right around April 1."
"We've had issues with contractors, problems with inspectors. I'm really looking forward to selling some food," Fridono told me as he was picking up some deep fryers and pastry cases late Thursday.
Fridono, of Inverness, says he plans to get the restaurant up and running for a year before handing the reins over to son Rocco and retiring in Florida.
Jimmy's -- a beloved dive where you could get a dog, fries and pop for under $5 -- closed in 2011.
Former Daily Herald reporter Paul Biasco, a Glenview native who now writes for DNAinfo.com, recently produced a video with his comedic quartet the Four Shortsmen about the origin of "dibs," the Chicago-area tradition of reserving a laboriously shoveled-out parking spot with chairs. The video also features Democratic Senate President John Cullerton's son, Kyle. Dad viewed the clip from the state Capitol last week and quipped that it was "better than (GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's) budget speech." You can watch the video at https://vimeo.com/155610561.
Living 'wax museum'
Second Baptist Church in Elgin is looking for kids ages 6 to 17 to participate in a living Black History Month event to commemorate its 150th anniversary. The Feb. 28 Sankofa Wax Museum event, held at the church, features children -- living wax models, if you will -- dressed up as figures who have been instrumental in the church becoming a local institution and in building communities. Subjects have included Viola Wheeler, one of Elgin's first black businesswomen, and activist Margaret Spivey. It's one of a number of anniversary activities scheduled between now and the main celebration in July.
"I think I did most of the talking," Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders says of this photo showing an exchange between him and a smiling House Speaker Michael Madigan during an education funding hearing last week. Madigan, Sanders said, asked exactly where U-46 -- the state's second largest school district -- was. Sanders says he took the opportunity to invite him for a visit.