Lester: No-fly zones for drones over Cook County property?

  • Cook County Board commissioner John Fritchey

    Cook County Board commissioner John Fritchey Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

A Cook County commissioner wants to ban drones over county property but says it's likely forest preserves would be treated differently than the jail, hospitals or courthouses.

Chicago Democrat John Fritchey tells me his proposed legislation was prompted by the discovery in March of a drone on Cook County jail property. He's concerned drones could be used to transport drugs or guns or take pictures inside hospitals or courtrooms.

Fritchey says it's not his intent to "usurp" rules made by the county forest preserve district, where, as a county commissioner, he serves on the board. But he says he's "looking at whether forest preserve policies need to be (further) codified." Drones now are subject to the same regulations as model airplanes, which can be flown during certain hours and in certain parts of forest preserves near Elk Grove Village, Palatine, Glenview, Hoffman Estates and Elgin, among others.

Drone directives

While the collar counties haven't restricted drones, some suburbs including South Elgin and Schaumburg have ordinances on their use and the Illinois General Assembly passed a law regulating drones' use by law enforcement for surveillance.

Fritchey says flying a drone for fun is "very different from their ability to drop guns or drugs into a prison (or) to monitor comings and goings at the courthouses." He plans to discuss his proposal at the county board's June 7 meeting.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at a ribbon cutting for the Busse Dam modification near Elk Grove Village in 2015.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at a ribbon cutting for the Busse Dam modification near Elk Grove Village in 2015. - Daily Herald File Photo
Third and final round?

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will seek a third term in 2018 but says it will be her last, should she win. The Democratic former Chicago alderman lives in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood.

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'Cojones' at the capitol

"If we really want to change something, you really have to get the cojones over there to stand up to Gov. Rauner," Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush admonished her Republican counterparts in the dwindling hours of the legislative session, where members of both parties got increasingly testy with one another. Bush, of Grayslake, made the comments after the chamber passed a two-year property tax freeze that had only three Republican votes. Most suburban GOP lawmakers didn't vote on the bill at all, with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont and Sens. Mike Connelly of Wheaton, Chris Nybo of Elmhurst and Tom Rooney of Rolling Meadows all voting "present."

But meanwhile

One bipartisan measure's being sent to the governor's desk, after legislation extending the River's Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit program until 2022 passed the House. The legislation, which originally was set to expire next year, gives tax credits to those redeveloping historic structures located in a River Edge Redevelopment Zone in Rockford, Aurora, Elgin, Peoria and East St. Louis. Suburban lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Democratic state Sens. Cristina Castro of Elgin and Linda Holmes of Aurora and Republican Sens. Karen McConnaughay of Geneva and Pam Althoff of McHenry, co-sponsored the bill.

Heidi Schuerstedt of Heidi's Bakery.
Heidi Schuerstedt of Heidi's Bakery. - Daily Herald File Photo
Prayers for Heidi

I was saddened to learn this week that Heidi Schuerstedt, the longtime owner of Heidi's Bakery, which had locations in Libertyville and Niles (a family favorite for pretzels, tortes and other German treats) and a volunteer for decades at St. Paul Lutheran School in Mount Prospect, has entered hospice care while battling leukemia. She's been spending recent days with her family by her side. Prayers to the whole crew.

Marathon majors

Arlington Heights father of two Nick Pinto tells me he finished all six World Marathon Majors races -- in Boston, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Chicago and London. Pinto, 50, completed Chicago in 2009, Boston in 2013 (crossing the finish line less than 15 minutes before the bombs went off), Berlin and New York in 2014, Tokyo in 2016 and London April 23. Always one for a new project, Pinto tells me his next goal is to complete a half marathon in every state, with the aim of finishing two or three a year.

Blue Goose Market in St. Charles
  Blue Goose Market in St. Charles - RICK WEST | Staff Photographer
National Donut Day

Blue Goose Market is planning to host its first donut-eating contest from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at the store, 300 S. 2nd St. in St. Charles. It's timed to coincide with National Donut Day, which was created in honor of the Salvation Army "Doughnut Girls" who served in World War I and II. Contest entrants are asked to raise $250 for the Salvation Army in the Tri-Cities to participate. Fellow columnist and buddy Jake Griffin -- a pie-eating contest regular -- hasn't yet committed, he tells me.

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