City Council

Public Hearing

Western Avenue Business District

A Public Hearing was held in City Council chambers at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. The purpose of the hearing was to present information on the proposed creation of a Business District in Blue Island, and to hear comments on said District. The presentation was made by Jason Berry. According to the information packet, the purpose of the District is to “explore a local sales tax to fund needed improvements”. The District will include: Western Avenue, 119th Street to 135th Street; Gregory Street, 127th Street to Grove Street; Vermont Street, Greenwood to Division. The 1% additional sales tax within this District would be held in a special fund to provide for: two-way operation of Western Avenue; façade grants for business owners; roadway and streetscape improvements; and infrastructure, parking, and utility upgrades. Projected revenue over 23 years is $21,000,000.00. Several business owners and residents spoke about the proposal. While there was some cautious enthusiasm, most comments were negative and/or critical of the lack of prior information or consultation with business owners. Under the law permitting the creation of such Districts, the areas must be designated “blighted” and there was much concern for the ramifications of the use of this term. The Public Hearing closed at 7:20 PM. During the subsequent Council meeting, a motion was made (Ald. Hawley and Bilotto) to approve the creation of the Business District. Ald. Ostling countered with a motion to table action until the March 24th Council meeting in order to schedule further informational meetings with business owners. Ald. Carr seconded the motion, noting that the two Chamber of Commerce meetings at which the Business District Plan was presented were special events, one costing $80.00 to attend, and the BDP was not on the agenda at these meetings. She said that business owners should not have to pay to get the information. Ald. Johnson stated his agreement, noting that more input was needed. A vote was taken on the motion to table action, which motion passed by a vote of 7 to 5. Voting against the motion to table, and by implication to proceed immediately to the creation of the District, were Ald. Bilotto, Donahue, Frausto, Hawley, and Johanson; Ald. Buckner and Vieyra were absent.

Blue Island City Council Meeting of February 24, 2015

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Vargas at 7:00 PM.  In addition to the Mayor, the City Clerk, City Treasurer, and City Attorney were present. 10 Alderpersons were present, constituting a quorum. Ald. Donahue, Pittman, Buckner and Johnson were absent. Ald. Stone noted that her comments were omitted from the previous Journal; the Mayor said he would check it out. Ald. Rita noted that the Finance Committee began at 7:00, not 7:30. The Journal of the February 10th regular meeting was approved

The City Attorney read the usual introduction, reminding the audience that the meeting is for the conduct of City business and citizens wishing to speak are allowed three minutes and should limit their comments to the business on the agenda. Resident Rachelle Orozco thanked all those who attended Black Culture Night. The Mayor commented that the program will be shown on Channel 4. Resident Allan Stevo stated that he is a student of government. He noted agenda items regarding tax abatements and asked what they were for; Mr. Anastasia replied that they were for waterworks and JAWA. Regarding the agenda item on the bridge project, Mr. Stevo asked why there was no RFP; and why there was secrecy. He asked “Where’s the transparency?” and also asked where the money will come from; there was no response. Mr. Stevo asked if the bridge will be rebuilt or repaired; the Mayor answered that it will be rehabbed, and suggested that Mr. Stevo speak to the engineer for details. Mr. Stevo asked where the money came from for the postcard; the Mayor responded that it was from private sources. Mr. Stevo challenged the Mayor to name the sources, and ended by sneering, “taking the fifth Mayor?”

There were no reports from the Community Development Committee, the Public Health and Safety Committee, or the Municipal Services Committee.

Ald. Hawley presented an ordinance amending ordinance 2015-008, relating to publication dates of public notice of hearings. The ordinance was approved with 10 “aye’ votes.

Ald. Rita read the Finance Committee report of the 2/17/2015 meeting. Payroll for 2/13/2015 in the amount of $359,990.82 was approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 10 “aye” votes. Accounts Payable for 2/18/2015 in the amount of $602,224.63 were approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 10 “aye” votes. Ald. Stone asked for explanation of payable large amounts. Mr. Anastasia noted the following: $130,000.00 for Cal Sag signage; $191,000.00 for medical insurance; and $120,000.00 for the Division Street Bridge. Abatement of real estate taxes for the water bond ($399,537.50) and JAWA bond ($96,205.00) were each approved with 10 “aye” votes. Council also approved with 10 “aye” votes a resolution approving Phase III construction of the Division Street Bridge rehabilitation. Ald. Rita noted that IDOT had specifically selected Lochner to do the work. Jason Berry reported to the Committee that Bluestone Redevelopment had not met the deadline for requested information (regarding development of the Jewel property). The Committee was also given information on upcoming grants for which the City might be eligible.

Ald. Ostling read the report of the February 20th meeting of the Judiciary Committee. Action on handicapped parking at 2451 Collins Street was tabled pending further documentation. Ald. Ostling asked for approval of an amendment to ordinance 13-217; the motion was approved with 10 “aye” votes. Ald. Ostling reported that the Committee would begin reviewing all ordinances, a process extending over the next several months.

The Mayor reported that beginning on March 3rd at 10:00 AM emergency sirens will be tested every Tuesday.

The Mayor read a resolution honoring Ruth Clara Herma Jebsen Rickhoff upon the celebration of her 100th birthday. Mrs. Rickhoff was born in Blue Island and lived most of her life here. A number of her relatives were present to accept the Resolution, which was approved by voice vote of the Council

The City Clerk asked for approval of a special event agreement with Double Play Saloon. The agreement, relating to use of the parking lot behind the establishment for a special event on May 9th, was approved with 10 “aye” votes.

The City Treasurer reported no business.

The City Attorney reported two items of business. First, a resolution approving settlement terms for pending litigation in Cook County Circuit Court (Tommy Brown Sports Association; property at 2805 W. 141st Street; $15,000.00). The resolution was approved by Council with 10 “aye” votes. Second, a resolution approving settlement terms for pending litigation in the United States District Court (Donald Flores; $70,000.00). The resolution was approved by Council with 10 “aye” votes.

The Council meeting was adjourned at 7:30 PM. Next meeting will be Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Submitted by Lynne Ingersoll


 

Blue Island City Council Meeting of February 10, 2015

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Vargas at 7:00 PM.  In addition to the Mayor, the City Clerk and City Attorney were present; City Treasurer was absent. 11 Alderpersons were present, constituting a quorum. Ald. Thompson, Buckner and Johnson were absent. The Journal of the January 27th regular meeting was approved.

The City Attorney read the usual introduction, reminding the audience that the meeting is for the conduct of City business and citizens wishing to speak are allowed three minutes and should limit their comments to the business on the agenda. Resident Robert Black voiced his displeasure with how the city handled snow plowing during the latest storm. His street (Artesian) was not plowed until Tuesday and his alley was not plowed until Thursday. This is an ongoing problem with the village (the Mayor corrected Mr. Black – Blue Island is a city). The Mayor stated that the alderpersons would meet regarding plowing of secondary streets. He pointed out that this was the 5th largest storm, with 21 inches falling in one day. Resident Allan Stevo asked what the mayor could tell residents about Walgreen’s; the Mayor replied that the company had made a decision to close the store when the lease was up. Mr. Stevo asked how many plows were out during the snow storm; Jim Poelsterl replied that there were 6 or 7. Mr. Stevo noted that he had been assured there would be no snow removal problems this year. He suggested that maybe the Mayor should take his job seriously. Mr. Stevo said to the Mayor, “you promised a forensic audit”; the Mayor said he had promised an audit; Mr. Stevo said, “You know the difference – when can we expect an audit?” The Mayor said that time was almost up. Mr. Stevo became more belligerent and confrontational, saying “we listen to your nonsense for an hour; people deserve more time to speak”. Mr. Stevo stated that the aldermen aren’t doing their jobs properly. He said “you put time limits on us – Mayor Peloquin put no limits on time to speak.” Mr. Stevo began another question; the Mayor interrupted him and said “your time is up”. The City Clerk interjected, “we have business to conduct”. Mr. Stevo said “You aren’t conducting it properly”, and then a BIPD officer approached Mr. Stevo.   The City Attorney stated that Mr. Stevo is in violation; the governing body prescribes the manner of public hearings. Mr. Stevo then left the podium.

Ald. Hawley read the report of the Community Development Committee meeting on 2/3/2015. A report was given on plans for the Jewel property and an economic impact study was presented. Plans for the property have been adjusted to eliminate the truck diesel filling area; a diesel pump will be located under the canopy for cars requiring diesel fuel. A timeline was presented, with construction beginning June 1, 2015 and completing around the end of November, 2015. Mark Miller, Mary Poulson, and Lindsay Dahlke presented their reports. Supervisor Crite reported January activity, including 77 rental/residential inspections; 33 complaints received/inspected; 23 health/license inspections; 123 code violation notices issued; and 13 housing court summons issued. Business licenses are pending for: Affordable Recovery Housing; Blue Island Beer Company; The BoCa Bar; Bradwear Accessories/Alterations; Chicagoland Truck Sale, Inc.; California Gardens Christian Day Care Center; De Beaute Fleur Salon; Designing and Railroad Manufacturing; Ila D’s Restaurant; It Takes a Village; Leslye’s; Mach 1 Mentoring, Inc.; Maximum Velocity Records, Ltd.; Montoya Nutrient Center; Mi Own Salon; Styler R’ Us; Tobacco Town 2, Inc.; TVSAT 4 Me; and Two Latinas with Soul. Several pending sign violations were described.  Building Department revenue for January, 2015, was $20,320.00. Building Dept. activity in January included: 72 permits of all types; 39 inspections of all types; 11 vacant properties registered; and 23 contractor registrations. Jason Berry presented a proposal from Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit that does pre-development work at no cost to the City. They asked for a resolution of understanding as a demonstration of local support. The Committee approved sending a Memorandum of Understanding to the full Council. Aldermen voiced concerns about various issues. The full Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding with 11 “aye” votes. The Council also approved by 11 “aye” votes the setting of March 10th for a public hearing regarding the establishment of a Business Development District.

.Ald. Rita read the Finance Committee report of the 2/3/2015 meeting. Payroll for 1/30/2015 in the amount of $339,292.18 was approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. Accounts Payable for 2/4/2015 in the amount of $477,869.33 was approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. The Committee heard an update on the Division Street Bridge project. Construction is on target to begin July 27, 2015, and will be completed in 11 phases. Total cost for the bridge will be approximately $5,100,000.00; the City’s portion will be $1,380,000.00.

Ald. Carr read the Public Health and Safety Committee report from the February 4, 2015 Committee meeting.   No citizens attended the meeting. The Fire Department reported 292 calls in Januar; average response time was 5.6 minutes. Medical reimbursement for January was $34,961.63. The training division completed 533.63 hours of training during January. BIPD has begun sex offender registration checks during the month of January. There are currently 23 registered sex offenders in Blue Island. BIPD will begin checking vacant properties in February. The Police Department answered 2,113 calls in January. Among other cases, there were 6 residential burglaries (3 unfounded); 167 (unfounded) alarm calls; 2 (unfounded) armed robberies; 8 shots fired (4 unfounded); 311 traffic and investigative stops; and 99 domestic disputes. 19,200 miles were patrolled in January.  Total revenue for January was $37,880.06. The Community Policing Unit conducted several senior checks and answered several calls by area grade schools regarding child abuse and behavioral issues, as well as several public nuisance complaints regarding property condition. The 911 Center received 12,248 calls in January. The Committee discussed at length the safety issues caused by the snow storm on 2/1/2015.

There was no report from the Municipal Services Committee. Ald. Johanson stated that the 2/11/2015 meeting had been cancelled. He noted that Public Works people were out during the recent horrendous snow fall. They are looking for constructive ideas for handling this kind of storm.

There was no report from the Judiciary Committee.

The Mayor introduced Jim Poelsterl, Public Works superintendent, who noted that plowing began on Saturday at 1:00 PM and continued with two alternating 12 hour shifts until the storm ended. Snow accumulated to 21 inches, with drifts of 3 to 4 feet, accompanied by 30 mph winds.

The City Clerk asked for approval of a request by the Blue Island American Legion Post 50 for their annual Poppy Days on May 15th and 16th. Motion approved with 11 “aye” votes.   The Clerk also requested approval of a request from Misericordia for their annual Jelly Belly Candy Days on April 24th and 25th. Motion approved with 11 “aye” votes.

The City Treasurer was absent but his report for COB January 31, 2015 was included in the agenda packet. Funds received were $2,893,742.81; funds paid out were $2,717,549.65; fund balance was $3,532,214.20. Checks totaling $169,083.46 were approved but not sent out. Council approved the report with 11 “aye” votes.

The City Attorney presented no business.

Ald. Stone made a statement about the decision that she will not be allowed to run for reelection, said decision made by a 3-person board. She stated that “my vote has never been for sale”. People of her ward are not being allowed to make a true choice as to their representation. She urges all residents to get involved and to pay attention to what is going on. She closed her comments by saying “I’ll be around.”.

Council retired to closed session at 7:55 PM to discuss pending litigation, and returned at 8:00 PM. The Council meeting was adjourned at 8:01 PM. Next meeting will be Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

Submitted by Lynne Ingersoll


 

Blue Island City Council Meeting of January 27, 2015

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Vargas at 7:13 PM.  In addition to the Mayor, the City Clerk, and City Attorney were present; City Treasurer was absent. 10 Alderpersons were present, constituting a quorum. Ald. Frausto, Thompson, Buckner and Johnson were absent. The Journal of the January 13th regular meeting was approved.

The City Attorney read the usual introduction, reminding the audience that the meeting is for the conduct of City business and citizens wishing to speak are allowed three minutes and should limit their comments to the business on the agenda. Resident Rachelle Orozco reminded meeting attendees of the upcoming Black History Month programs. Resident Allan Stevo stated that, having given the Mayor time to think about his response, he wanted to ask why no search was done for a new 2nd Ward Alderman. The Mayor replied that it was “my decision”. Mr. Stevo asked if that was fair. The Mayor did not respond. Mr. Stevo asked why Fred Bilotto is the best choice. The Mayor did not respond, repeating that Mr. Bilotto is “my choice”. Mr. Stevo appeared to become confrontational and asked if Mr. Bilotto being Calumet Township Assessor and a ghost pay roller isn’t enough. He asked if consideration had been given to the Carlos Salgado situation. Mr. Stevo then addressed Ald. Pittman, asking why he thought Mr. Bilotto was the best choice “since you stood up for him”. Ald. Pittman did not reply and the Mayor stated “time is up”. Ald. Johanson asked that “this” cease; this is show biz by someone who is running for the position. The Mayor repeated that time is up for Mr. Stevo to comment.

Ald. Hawley read the report of the Community Development Committee meeting of 1/14/2015. December Housing Court handled 34 violations. January Housing Court handled 41 violations. 29 cases are scheduled for the February hearing.   Business licenses was approved for Styler R’ Us, a retail establishment at 12822 Western Avenue; and for TVSAT 4 Me, a service establishment (dish satellite sales and service) also at 12822 Western Avenue. Business licenses are pending for: Affordable Recovery Housing; Blue Island Beer Company; The BoCa Bar; Bradwear Accessories/Alterations; Chicagoland Truck Sale, Inc.; California Gardens Christian Day Care Center; De Beaute Fleur Studio; Ila D’s Restaurant; It Takes a Village; Leslye’s; Mach 1 Mentoring, Inc.; Maximum Velocity Records, Ltd.; and Tobacco Town 2, Inc.. Building Department revenue for December, 2014, was $32,198.00. Building Dept. activity in December included: 64 permits of all types; 66 inspections of all types; 24 vacant properties registered or inspected; 20 contractor registrations; 73 code violation door tags; 20 court summons issued; and 19 complaints checked. There was a lengthy discussion about progress, or lack thereof, at Fay’s Point. The Mack Group representative, Gene Steinmarch, gave an overview of the project, and proposed variations. Various alderpersons voiced concerns about density, traffic, water pressure and effect on police and fire department services. A number of residents also voiced concerns about these issues, noting that they want development but also want input and assurances. Mack Group will more fully develop their plans, meet with current property owners, and return to the Committee with more formalized plans. Several alderpersons brought up concerns, all of which will be handled by the Building Department

Ald. Rita read the Finance Committee report of the 1/120/2015 meeting. Payroll for 1/16/2015 in the amount of $374,543.45 was approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. Accounts Payable for 1/21/2015 in the amount of $346,682.09 were approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. The Committee approved an ordinance appropriating funds for corporate purposes for FY 2015. Ald. Rita informed the Council that their diligent work is showing results. The deficit is significantly reduced. She reminded Council that appropriations are not the same as a budget, which will be presented later on. The Appropriations Ordinance was approved with 10 “aye” votes.

There was no report from the Public Health and Safety Committee, but Ald. Carr introduced Mr. Undra’ Ware, who replaces Jackie Mathis at the BIFD.

Ald. Johanson read the report of the 1/14/2015 Municipal Services Committee meeting. No residents attended the meeting. In November, leaks were repaired at 13430 Western Avenue and at Vermont & Winchester, as well as at 2215 W. 119th Street (the Metra Rail Round House) and at an empty house at 2821 W. 139th Street. A water main break at Maple and Cochran was repaired on January 13th. Leaky meter checks & repairs were scheduled: there were 20 in November and 1`7 in December. Street and alley repairs continue. 40+ tons of hot patch and 22+ tons of cold patch have been applied (time period not specified). Maintenance repairs were made to 16 street lights and 11 requests were made to ComEd regarding their poles. The Committee continues to investigate new LED lighting systems. LED is expensive up front but savings can be significant and lighting is much truer. Retro-fitting existing fixtures may be cost effective. Bulk waste clean-up efforts resulted in the disposal of 99 twenty-yard dumpsters of rubbish, yard waste, and debris. Public Works crews have so far dealt with 14 snow events, none particularly significant. Snow removal equipment continues to pose challenges due to age and condition. Alderpersons are encouraged to report, by e-mail preferably, issues regarding potholes, trees, lighting, electronics and signage.

Ald. Ostling reported on a meeting of Judiciary Committee on January 20th.   The Committee has received the codification of ordinances and will be reviewing/revising all ordinances, and rescinding ordinances that are not up to date. Handicapped parking at 2328 Vernon Street was rescinded by Council.

The Mayor reported no business. The City Attorney reported no business. The City Treasurer was absent and there was no report.

The City Clerk asked for approval of a request by Veterans Memorial Middle School to block Greenwood Avenue between Grunewald Avenue and 123rd Street on January 30th and 31st for the parking of busses for a program. The request was approved.

Ald. Johanson complimented the actions of the administration, particularly regarding the appropriation process.

Council retired to closed session at 7:45 PM and returned at 7:55 PM. The Council meeting was adjourned at 7:57 PM. Next meeting will be Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

Submitted by Lynne Ingersoll


Public Hearing for Appropriations for FY 2015

The public hearing on FY 2015 appropriations began at 7:02 PM on January 27, 2015. The Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public; resident Allan Stevo approached the microphone. He asked if there is a line item for a forensic audit. The Mayor did not reply and asked for the next question. Mr. Stevo asked if there was a line item for rebuilding bridges; the Mayor did not reply and asked for the next question. Mr. Stevo redirected his question to Ald. Rita, Chair of the Finance Committee. She replied that yes, there was a line item and asked Mr. Anastasia to elaborate. Continuing to address Ald. Rita, Mr. Stevo asked if the project would be completed this year; Ald. Rita replied that the project is in Phase 2. Mr. Stevo asked about bids for the bridge work; Ald. Rita replied that it is an IDOT project over which the City has no control and Mr. Stevo should refer his question to that agency. The Mayor interjected that Mr. Stevo was wasting his time and had one minute left. Mr. Stevo protested that since this is a public hearing, there should not be a 3 minute time limit. He asked if there is a line item regarding the 7th Ward flooding; Ald. Rita replied that there is. Mr. Stevo asked if there is a line item for a Police Chief; Ald. Rita replied that there is not. Mr. Stevo asked, apparently rhetorically, if this meant there would be no appointment of a Chief. Mr. Stevo asked if there is a line item for Fire Chief; Ald. Rita asked if Mr. Stevo had even read the appropriation ordinance. Mr. Stevo asked why she refused to answer his question. Mr. Stevo asked if there are line items for lawsuits. Ald Rita said there are and they are included in the risk management section. Mr. Anastasia noted that there are three types of lawsuits covered but he did not have the specific amounts; they are in the ordinance. Mr. Stevo stated that he expected “proper” answers but did not get them because 2nd Ward alderpersons “aren’t doing their job”. City Attorney Raines interjected that Mr. Stevo’s time was up. Mr. Stevo commented again about refusals to answer, and left the microphone. No other residents had comments or questions. The public hearing was adjourned at 7:12 PM.


Blue Island City Council Meeting of January 13, 2015

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Vargas at 7:00 PM.  In addition to the Mayor, the City Clerk, and City Attorney were present; City Treasurer was absent. 10 Alderpersons were present, constituting a quorum. Ald. Frausto arrived about 15 minutes late; Ald. Rita, Buckner and Johnson were absent. The Journal of the December 9th regular meeting was approved.

The City Attorney read the usual introduction, reminding the audience that the meeting is for the conduct of City business and citizens wishing to speak are allowed three minutes and should limit their comments to the business on the agenda. Resident Carol DiPace-Greene made comments regarding the pending Robbie Silva case, the legal fees relating to Ald. Stone’s petition, and the appointment of Fred Bilotto to the position of 2nd Ward Alderman. Resident Kevin Yates asked about donation of land at Fay’s Point to the city. This information is incorrect. Resident Margaret Ennis introduced members of Women of Worship from the Glorious Life Worship Center and noted that the group is making an impact through the awarding of scholarships and the support of a women’s recovery home. She thanked the mayor and alderpersons who came to their most recent function, feeding the homeless. The group presented A Heart That Cares Awards to Mayor Vargas, Ald. Tom Hawley, and Ald. Nancy Thompson. The mayor thanked them for the honor.

Ald. Hawley read the report of the Community Development Committee meeting of 12/15/2014. November Housing Court handled 43 violations. 37 cases are scheduled for the December hearing.   Business license was approved for Iona’s On the Blu, a restaurant at 12452 Western Avenue. Business licenses are pending for: Affordable Recovery Housing; Blue Island Beer Company; The BoCa Bar; Chicagoland Truck Sale, Inc.; California Gardens Christian Day Care Center; De Beaute Fleur Salon; Ila D’s Restaurant; It Takes a Village; Mach 1 Mentoring, Inc.; Maximum Velocity Records, Ltd.; Styler R’ Us; Tobacco Town 2, Inc.; and TVSAT 4 Me. License application for JR’s Towing and Recovery, Inc. was withdrawn by the applicant. The property located at 13636 Western Ave. (Libby Building) was placarded “Not Approved for Occupancy” in late November. Building Department revenue for November, 2014, was $23,867.00. Building Dept. activity in November included: 60 permits of all types; 61 inspections of all types; 3 vacant properties registered; 26 contractor registrations; 1 garage sale permit; and 31 complaints checked. Jason Berry presented information on the proposed Business District, which will allow the city to add a percentage to the sales tax rate in the area, the use of proceeds being limited to improvements in the area. Committee approved the drafting of a resolution to this effect. Mr. Berry also reported on the Marina at Fay’s Point.

Ald. Rita read the Finance Committee report of the 1/16/2015 meeting. Allan Stevo attended the committee meeting and asked where the Workman’s Comp money had gone; a list of recipients was read. Payroll for 12/5/2014 in the amount of $353,511.28 and for 12/19/2014 in the amount of $338,906.96 were approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. Accounts Payable for 12/17/2014 in the amount of $251,721.11 and for 1/17/2015 in the amount of $194,159.30 were approved by the committee, and by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes. The Committee approved a resolution creating a Business District to assist owners between 119th Street and 135th Street, including Olde Western Avenue. Ald. Johnson asked about the increase in sales tax; Ald. Hawley replied that it would be a maximum of 1% and would be set aside for improvements within the district. The resolution was approved by the full Council with 11 “aye” votes.

Ald. Carr read the Public Health and Safety Committee report from the January 7, 2015 Committee meeting.   No citizens attended the Committee meeting. The Fire Department reported 348 calls in December. Medical reimbursement for November was $25,002.78; and Fire Recovery collected $435.00. Probationary Firefighter Joseph Pinnick was assigned to 1st shift effective 12/22/2014. Chief Klinker thanked Michael Mech, the Bungalow Chef, for providing meals for the BIFD and 911 Center on Christmas day. The training division completed 591.6 hours of training during December. The Police Department answered 2,001 calls in December. Among other cases, there were 5 residential burglaries; 114 (unfounded) alarm calls; 2 (unfounded) armed robberies; 1 robbery; 6 burglaries (2 unfounded); 3 shots fired (all unfounded); 364 traffic and investigative stops; and 88 domestic disputes. 20,566 miles were patrolled in December.  Total revenue for December was $32,966.50. The Community Policing Unit conducted several senior checks and arrested a student at Eisenhower for attempting to disarm an officer. The 911 Center received 12,287 calls in December.

There was no report from the Municipal Services Committee.

Ald. Ostling reported on a meeting of Judiciary Committee on January 13th.   Handicapped parking at 2253 Grove Street was approved by Council. Handicapped parking at 2441 Grove Street was rescinded by Council.

The Mayor wished everyone a happy new year.

The City Clerk asked for approval of a request by the Blue Island Little League to have their annual opening day parade on April 25, 2015. The request was approved.

The City Treasurer was absent but his report for COB December 31, 2014 was included in the agenda packet. Funds received were $4,745,339.55; funds paid out were $5,265,386.50; fund balance was $3,480,031.13. Checks totaling $132,786.79 were approved but not sent out. Council approved the report with 11 “aye” votes.

The City Attorney presented no business.

Ald. Johnson inquired about funds for aldermanic training; the Mayor said he would look into it. Ald. Johnson also asked about the Rec Center; the Mayor said a trial would start in a few weeks.

Council retired to closed session at 7:45 PM and returned at 8:12 PM. The Council meeting was adjourned at 8:14 PM. Next meeting will be Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Submitted by Lynne Ingersoll


Blue Island City Council Meeting of December 9, 2014

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Vargas at 7:00 PM.  In addition to the Mayor, the City Clerk, and City Attorney were present; City Treasurer was absent. 12 Alderpersons were present, constituting a quorum. Ald. Buckner and Johnson were absent. The Journal of the November 25th regular meeting was approved. Ald. Rita noted a correction to the payroll amount.

The City Attorney read the usual introduction, reminding the audience that the meeting is for the conduct of City business and citizens wishing to speak should limit their comments to the business on the agenda. Resident Rachelle Orozco announced the 2015 Black Culture Nite to he held on February 20th. The subject this year is Maya Angelou, who was the speaker at Rachelle’s graduation from Chicago State University. Everyone is invited. Rachelle also noted that December 18th is Ald. Thompson’s birthday. Resident Allan Stevo commented on the replacement of Ald. Bilotto without public notice. Mr. Stevo asked about the $1,000,000.00 tax anticipation warrant being issued, the bid process on improvements, and renewal of 6B tax abatement. He asked, rhetorically, “haven’t we given enough?” and the Mayor said he would make a note of the comment. Mr. Stevo also noted that the time for public comment (3 minutes) is not fair, and since the second December Council meeting is cancelled, the time should be upped to 6 minutes. The Mayor said “no”. Resident Rod Reinhart thanked the community for their support of the annual drive for homeless vets. They collected 5 truckloads of clothing, sleeping bags and other materials which will help them survive another winter. The Mayor said he applauds the effort

In a change to the agenda sequence, Committee reports were presented. There were no reports from Community Development or Municipal Services Committees.

Ald. Rita read the Finance Committee report, noting that Allan Stevo had requested copies of payroll and accounts payable prior to their being approved. .Payroll for 11/21/2014 in the amount of $338,616.88 was approved by Council, as were Accounts Payable for 12/3/2014 in the amount of $642,722.49.

Ald. Carr read the Public Health and Safety Committee report from the December 3, 2014 Committee meeting.   The Fire Department reported 290 calls in November. Average response time was 5.17 minutes. Medical reimbursement for November was $30,265.33; and Fire Recovery collected $1,576.00. Probationary Firefighter William Hall and Probationary Firefighter Joseph Pinnick began work in November. All shifts are up to 7 full time firefighters. Jackie Mathis is retiring from the BIFD. The training division completed 581 hours of training during November. The Department has applied for a grant for $22,600.00 of personal protective equipment, and an unspecified amount for new ambulances through the AFG Grant. The Police Department answered 2,025 calls in November. Among other cases, there were 12 residential burglaries. 10 shots

fired (7 unfounded), and 99 domestic disputes. There were two armed robberies, one at the corner store on DesPlaines and one at Auto Zone on Western. 18,736 miles were patrolled in November, 700 more than in October. Total revenue for November was $39,135.49. The Community Policing Unit conducted several senior checks and answered several calls to area grade schools. The 911 Center received 12,105 calls in November.

Ald. Ostling reported on a special meeting of Judiciary Committee on December 9th.   Handicapped parking at 2155 Vermont Street and 2055 York Street was approved by Council.

The Mayor asked for and received Council approval to cancel the December 23rd Council meeting. The Mayor read and Council approved a proclamation declaring December to be National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. A Christmas tree has been provided by Thomas Gintila of Express Carriers and erected at High Street & Western by Decker Brothers. Mary Paulson reminded everyone of Rock Around the Clock on New Year’s Eve. Mayor Vargas reported that he had received letters from President Obama and Vice President Biden, wishing the City a Merry Christmas.

The City Treasurer was absent but his report for COB November 30, 2014 was included in the agenda packet. Funds received were $3,275,191.44; funds paid out were $4,069,268.02; fund balance was $4,011,732.89. Some checks were approved but not sent out.

The City Attorney presented seven items for approval, all of which were approved unanimously by roll call or voice vote. Most related to renewal of class 6(b) or class 8 real estate tax incentives.

The Mayor announced that Ald. Bilotto-Berrini has submitted her resignation from Council. She said it was difficult to balance her personal and professional lives and give the necessary attention to aldermanic responsibilities. She stated that her years on Council have been wonderful and she was blessed and honored to serve. The Council accepted, with regret, her resignation. The Mayor then recommended that Fred Bilotto be appointed as 2nd ward Alderman, noting his track record of serving on the Park Board and as Calumet Township Assessor. Approval of the appointment was moved and seconded. Ald. Thompson asked if it is permissible hold two elected positions, and if it is physically possible to do three jobs at one time. Ald. Donahue stated that it is permissible, and Ald. Pittman stated that as to it being physically possible, that is up to the person to determine. The appointment was approved with 9 “aye” votes; Ald. Thompson and Stone voted “no”. Newly appointed 2nd Ward Ald. Fred Bilotto was then duly sworn to office. He thanked Council for their vote and stated that he knew well the issues of the City.

Several Alderpersons welcomed Ald. Bilotto. Ald. Hawley thanked the various City departments for their help with the Light Parade. Ald. Rita thanked people for their donation of more than 100 boxes of cereal to Angel’s Touch. Other alderpersons, as well

as the City Clerk and City Attorney, wished residents happy and safe holidays and Merry Christmas. Mayor Vargas said that on behalf of his family and the Hispanic community, he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad, asking that the men and women of the armed forces not be forgotten.

There was no Consent Agenda, all items needing approval having been voted on individually

The Council meeting was adjourned at 7:50 PM. Next meeting will be Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

 Submitted by Lynne Ingersoll