Lester: Preckwinkle's visits to 'burbs rare, but top Stroger's
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle paid just 10 official visits to the Northwest suburbs in a year's time, a review of her schedule shows. Still, that's far more love than what's been shown to the 'burbs in the past by county leaders, suburban mayors tell me.
The Chicago Democrat's daily calendar, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows visits to Rosemont in February 2015, a hard hat tour at Camp Reinberg in Palatine in May and a visit to Elk Grove Village for a groundbreaking at the Busse Dam in August, among others. Plus, she did hit a few other suburbs not in the northwest part of the county.
Preckwinkle, whose headquarters are in downtown Chicago, held meetings with suburban officials throughout the year, her schedule shows.
An improvement from Stroger
Preckwinkle's two immediate predecessors -- John Stroger and his son, Todd -- were roundly criticized for failure to make regular appearances in the suburbs, which makes up close to half the county's population. So, Preckwinkle's management style has largely been considered an improvement.
"Certainly she's made an effort to reach out to the suburbs and provide county assistance for some projects," Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson says. On the other hand, he says, "we never really saw Todd."
A number of mayors, speaking on background, also cited some political maneuvering that has to be done in dealing with both Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider -- who happens to be the Illinois Republican Party Chair -- and Preckwinkle, an increasingly powerful member of the Cook County Democratic Party, as the two don't always see eye to eye.
Preckwinkle, spokesman Frank Shuftan says, is regularly made aware of concerns and issues through meetings with staff as well as commissioners.
"The President does visit all areas of the County based on invitations, her schedule and factors such as distance," Shuftan says. He described her as "deeply invested in ensuring that all areas of the county are given the attention they deserve and that no area is neglected."
I was among those thrilled in recent days to see coverage of Rosie the Riveters -- American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II -- being honored for the first time in Washington, D.C. last week. But were any suburban women among the group, I wondered? Chicago Honor Flight co-founder Mary Pettinato of Chicago says no, noting that getting local women on board has been a problem. "We invite women every time. We just don't get that many women who sign up," Pettinato says of the program, which has flown nearly 6,000 veterans to Washington to see the National World War II Memorial.
If you are a Rosie or know of one, give me a call or drop me a note, as I'm looking to profile a few. In the meantime, take a look at the throwback photo I keep at my newsroom desk of my own family's Rosie, my grandmother Emily, far right, on break while working at Permoflux Corp., which made wartime headsets and speakers.
I placed a call to my oldest childhood friend -- an orchestra teacher at Metea Valley High School -- after news broke that the Aurora school was one of three in the country to be designated a Grammy Signature Gold School for excellence in music education. Robin Sackschewsky -- an accomplished violinist who plays in more ensembles than, frankly, I can count -- tells me some 30 percent of Metea's student body participates in an ensemble in some form or another. The highlight of the year, she says, was when orchestra students got to meet and take part in a Q-and-A session with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Condolences to the Rev. Matt Foley of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights on the death of his brother James last week. James, a longtime resident of Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago, was described by family as a "devoted Green Bay Packer fan, a country music enthusiast and lover of all good food, good friends and celebrations of any kind." A memorial prayer service will be held at 10 a.m.
today in the Misericordia Chapel, 6300 Ridge Ave., Chicago. Visitation will be at 6 p.m. today, followed by a funeral Mass at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 1775 Grove St., Glenview. In addition to his work as a priest, the Rev. Matt Foley is known for his friendship with late comedian Chris Farley and for lending his name to a fictional Farley character on "Saturday Night Live."
Striking at the statute
The Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests -- which has chapters in Chicago, Rockford and Peoria -- is calling on Illinois lawmakers to expand the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases to allow victims to file criminal charges retroactively. They made the request after it was revealed last week that an accuser is expected to testify at former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's sentencing next month.
Hastert pleaded guilty last October to violating bank laws as he sought to pay $3.5 million to ensure someone stayed quiet about past misconduct allegations, which dated back to when he coached wrestling at Yorkville High School. In this particular case, there are no charges of sexual abuse because it's outside the statute of limitations in place more than 30 years ago. "Hastert might have been exposed years earlier had Illinois lawmakers reformed the state's archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations," network officials say.
Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014 signed a law that removes the statute of limitations for abuse occurring after Jan. 1, 2014, but survivors of abuse before that time are still subject to the law that was in place at the time of their abuse.