School Traffic

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The Problem

School-related traffic congestion and the risks such congestion poses to the safety of the students, teachers, parents, and residents, in and around schools is a significant problem in this community. The most obvious cause of traffic congestion around schools is vehicles, and the biggest source of those vehicles is simply the parents’ dropping off and picking up their children from school. In the United States, roughly three-quarters of school-aged children are taken to school by car.  As described below, an increase in children taken to school by car is just one contributing factor to the problem. Other factors include changes In School population, new school construction causing confusion or issues with residents that did not have any issues previously, and traffic signs and signals surrounding a school.

Traffic congestion alone causes inconvenience to drivers, leads to lost time from the job, and can contribute to “road rage.” In addition to affecting parent drivers and other commuters, school traffic congestion is a source of problems for students, school staff, residents in and around schools, and local police charged with enforcing traffic laws and responding to problems raised by residents and schools. More importantly, congestion can be a source of traffic crashes and child pedestrian injuries and deaths. Child pedestrian injuries due to traffic are more likely to occur in settings with high traffic volume and on-street parking, with children’s often emerging “masked” from behind parked cars. This is an issue in Schiller Park at all of the local schools.

Factors Contributing to Traffic Congestion Around Schools

While many factors contribute to the problem of school traffic congestion, the single greatest explanation for recent school traffic congestion is actually two fold, the growth of the school-aged population over a relatively short time, combined with the redesign of the drop-off and pick-up system at Kennedy School. Both factors have led to the issues being complained about around that School, and rendering original school drop-off and pick-up schemes (including guidelines for when and where parents may drop off, pick up, and park), street layouts, and traffic control measures ineffective in controlling congestion. I feel I can safely add that in my own experiences the conditions surrounding the Drop-off, and pick-up at Kennedy School is significantly better then it was at the start of this school year, and in my opinion even better then it was when the school used its original traffic pattern.

In general when asked, parents who choose to take their children by car cite distance, traffic hazards, time constraints, and bad weather as the most common reasons for selecting this transportation mode. Other input has suggested that both road safety and “stranger danger” are the key explanations for why parents are increasingly taking their children to school by car. One can view such threats to child safety as both a cause and a symptom of school congestion. On the one hand, parental concerns about traffic hazards could lead more parents to drive their children to school, thereby increasing congestion. On the other hand, traffic congestion could lead to more child pedestrian accidents, with backed up cars’ blocking the views of small children crossing the street to enter school.

Understanding Your Local Problem

The discussion above is only a generalized description of our school traffic congestion. You should use these basic facts to help develop a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response, and help to open our minds to who is ultimately responsible for these issues, and who has gone above and beyond in their effort to assist in dealing with these issues.

Stakeholders

The following groups have an interest in the school traffic-congestion problem and should be considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about the problem and responding to it.

Police

This was written more for the police, and the village, not only because they are the biggest stakeholders in solving these traffic congestion problems, but because they are often one of the first to be called when traffic congestion develops around our schools. The Police are more likely to be contacted only after tensions have developed among residents, school staff, and parents over who is responsible for the congestion. Police therefore are in a unique position to serve as mediator between these groups, helping them to seek common ground in developing and implementing effective solutions and ultimately making their jobs easier by reducing the number of calls for service generated by congestion, and traffic safety issues that often accompany it.

Parents

When it comes to both understanding the underlying source of the congestion problem and developing responses to it, parents may be the single most important stakeholder you identify. This is because parents’ decisions to drive their children to school, their concern for their children’s safety, and their regard for existing traffic rules can tremendously affect the problem. With the general courtesy and respect this portion of the issue seems to be very much under control.

Students

While research indicates that most school traffic problems occur around elementary and middle schools, Student input in these lower-grade schools is equally important, and can become critical if a response strategy includes encouraging children to walk or bike to school.

School Administrators and Teachers

School staff often experience the aggravation of school traffic congestion in equal measure to parents. Some staff, such as the principal and school administrators, bear the brunt of complaints by parents and local residents. Given that most congestion occurs in and around school property, the child safety concerns associated with traffic congestion become the school’s responsibility, as well. These are addressed regularly and seem to be of the highest priority to School District 81. No days have gone by that one or all of the administrators of Kennedy School are not assisting with the drop-off and pick-up process, and an army of teachers and staff at all points of the process.

Local Residents

Residents living near schools with congestion problems are very much affected by the problem, and may also be contributing to it In their own way. Imagine being late for work and pulling out of your driveway, only to realize that school traffic is at its peak and it will take another 10 minutes just to travel a tenth of a mile. Residents may become so frustrated by repeated complaints to the school or local police with no visible sign of resolution in sight, that they deliberately ignore signs, speed limits, or pedestrian traffic, further contributing to the congestion problem, and reduced safety.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

Enhancing the enforcement of existing traffic laws. As with similar, more “reactive” police measures, such as increased patrols, enhanced enforcement of existing traffic laws is likely to have a positive but short-term impact on the problem if not maintained consistently. As soon as traffic enforcement reverts back to preintervention levels, congestion is likely to increase again. However, if patrols are assigned strategically to increase presence during peak arrival and departure periods, they may serve as a very useful and effective complement to other problem-solving measures.

Who’s responsibility is it to remedy this issue?

The answer Is simple to me. The general responsibility falls on all of us, in my opinion some of the responsible parties are already pulling their weight, but the rest of us need to step up.  I have sat and watched at all three of the public Schools since the beginning of the year, and the School District personnel are doing an outstanding job, with the District regularly implementing new technologies and procedures since the begging of the year. The parents actively participating in the process are also for the most part relatively appropriate and respectful during this process with the exception of a small few. They in reality have little choice in the matter, and have taken the changes in stride. The remaining stakeholders need to step up, the resididents around the Schools need to realize that everything that can be done by the Schools is being done, and constantly being improved by the Schools themselves. The remainder of this issue again in my opinion falls on the village, and possibly the police department.

Even though it is my feeling that the issues that most are complaining about are not actually issues at all, but simply a new inconvenience to their daily routine caused by the rerouted lines they are still complaints that need to be addressed, and still remains the normal speeders we see in Schiller Park, and the new ones created by the congestion itself who put our children and residents at risk, specifically at Kennedy School, but in reality all of Schiller Park

There is no consistent police presence at any of the schools during drop-off and pick-up, and it is putting everyone at risk daily. If we all stop blaming the people who are already doing all they can, and direct our energy and issues to those who still have much they can do maybe we will see some meaningful change.

Barbara Piltaver – Village President / Mayor
Phone: 847-671-8502          mayor@villageofschillerpark.com

Thomas Fragakis – Chief of Police
Phone: 847-678-4794         Tfragakis@schillerparkil.us

 

 

Practicing What I Preach, and Street Crossing

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Time to practice what I preach. Open mindedness, tollerance, looking for what’s fact not fiction, no matter the source.

I have posted hundreds of articles about actions of people that I do not agree with. Some of those activities I have felt were unconscionable, and despicable, but I have always said it wasn’t about personal hate, or malice toward any of those individuals. Do I personally dislike many of them? Yes, but It was simply about spreading the truth. Spreading facts to try and dispute the non-facts of others. Getting information out that could help to change a bad situation into a better one, But what happens when one of the people you have spent the most time in complete disagreement with shares something that is a valid and a serious concern. Are we adult enough to have more concern for the greater good then our own personal distaste for that person? Can we let down the wall of separation and find a common ground? In this particular persons case I would answer absolutely not, but yet I find myself writing this post. Struggling to figure out a way to share the info without crediting the original poster. How can I share the information he has without lending any sort of credibility to him? I am not adult enough apparently to accept some common ground with a man I have spent a decade being disgusted by, yet here I am still typing. My distaste doesn’t change the fact that he has raised a concern that if I had to guess many of us have been taking for granted, or overlooking because of other more current issues.

Lately we have discussed safety concerns around our schools. Specifically the flashing stop signs and their removal, for what appears to be nothing more then making a single voter happy. It may seem to have gotten some greater focus then it normally would have, but Isn’t it human nature to focus so directly on something that you completely miss something at least as serious? Of course it is, it happens every day in every subject. Specifically during a political cycle. It’s also not uncommon that we forget about something that has been discussed before at length.

Lightning may strike me down, and I may be damned to an eternity of ridicule and hate for simply saying I agree with the person who sparked this post, but he has a valid point on this specific subject.

Pedestrians safety is in jeopardy at scott and irving in Schiller Park

Scott and Irving is a major street crossing used by Schiller Park residents going to and from the pool all summer and to a lesser extent numerous pedestrians cross there on a daily basis the remainder of the year.

The crossing is unmarked and does not comply with IDOT regulations because there is no continuation of sidewalk from one side of Irving Park Road to the other side; the crossing provides no continuity for the pedestrians.

The intersection is at a location where drivers going east bound on Irving Park Road are reducing speed from 40 mph to 35 mph; while west bound traffic is being permitted to accelerate from 35 mph to 40 mph with many cars accelerating to merge on to the northbound TriState 294.

Eastbound traffic is distracted by the traffic lights at Judd and Irving just a half a block from pedestrians crossing at Scott and westbound traffic attention is drawn to the traffic light overlooking the pedestrians crossing at Scott Street.

East and west bound on traffic on Irving Park road have no regulatory signs warning of pedestrians crossing at Scott and Irving, let alone vehicular cross traffic.

Easily east and west bound traffic on Irving Park Road are usually operating at a minimum 10 mph over the speed limit; meaning pedestrians are easily facing at times 55 mph traffic as they attempt to cross Irving Park Road.

Drivers are warned about the cemetery entrance and the divided highway ahead; but drivers are not warned about pedestrians.

There are marked crossings at Stalica Park and at the Recreation Center BUT NOT at Scott and Irving.

Scott and Irving has seen a number traffic accidents each year, with some having resulted in serious injuries and fatalities, but little has been done to identify the crossing and warn drivers of pedestrians.

The Village provides a crossing guard most of the time that the Montana Water Park and Memorial Pool is open. But the Village employee faces the same disadvantages that the pedestrians encounter.

I personally was hit twice while crossing children in the 1970’s and ironically hit again in 2014 as I tried to divert a car from hitting a mother crossing with her children. As circumstances would be had no drivers license and left the scene only to be apprehended later.

The deficiencies are as unfair to the drivers as they are dangerous to the pedestrians.

What remains confounding is the outrage and pursuit of concerns regarding flashing stop signs around the schools, that have no accidents and no injuries reported at Village Board meetings and school board meetings; but the SD81 and Schiller Park have allocated thousands of dollars in grant funds for flashing stop signs. Yet there is no mention or pursuit by anyone to improve the safety at Scott St and Irving Park Road.

What will it take to engage the full participation of the elected officials, school district and Village administrative staff and residents to pursue a responsible safety solution at this intersection. So far it has been almost 50 years since the pool was opened and no one has provided the leadership to resolve this safety quagmire.

But yet the bickering continues over flashing red stop signs at intersections near the schools. Let’s move on address an intersection which children are crossing a highway with cars traveling at 55 mph, with no marked intersection and no regulatory signs warning the drivers of pedestrians.

These conditions at the intersection on a daily basis threaten the lives of our residents; and place unsuspecting motorists in an awful position which could result in a life altering tragedy for the driver.

I can not bring myself to share the link to the original post, and I apologize for that. It seems I may not be as noble as I felt I was, but the fact remains that the person who shared this is not wrong. This is a very serious issue to all residents of Schiller Park, and even more so to the Children who may not have the same experience crossing a street as an adult does. This particular crossing is a bad one, and presents another significant risk to all the residents of Schiller Park that has seemingly been ignored. It is also not the only one in our community, but who is responsible for improving the safety of those that cross these streets? IDOT? The village? Both?

I want to state again that this crossing at Irving and Scott st is not the only particularly unsafe crossing in this community, it should also not diminish the seriousness of reducing safety to residents simply for the purpose of pleasing one voter by removing a newly installed flashing stop sign. It’s an additional example of misplaced village priorities.

Additionally we can not ignore the other safety concerns that affect our community. Speeding in Schiller Park is another subject that I see brought up particularly often, and that is not the only other example. Yet we seem to be more concerned with the placement of a night club then the safety of our fellow Schiller Parkers. How many children and residents in this community need to get hit before something is done? That is what I want to know from our current mayor, and what she is planing to do about it. It is after all an election season, but I want to know what she will do right now not later to keep our community as safe as she can from these threats to our safety.

Stop Signs and Traffic in a School Zones

As I have said in the past I tend to stay away from village level issues, unless it pertains to the School, or in this case the safety of the students in Schiller Park. At times village level issues tend to have an affect on the School, and I have always found it disturbing that people in positions of leadership would play these types of games with the education and safety of your children.

This brings us back to the flashing stop signs, and the traffic concerns in Schiller Park around our schools that seems to be getting worse yet still not being addressed.

I discussed the flashing stop signs in a post a short time ago, and the program that put them in place (Flashing Stop Signs). The short of it is that the flashing stop signs were installed as a federally funded program to add safety to the walking routes around our schools. Mayor Piltaver, and her staff worked to get this program put in place in Schiller Park for a reason that we hoped was the safety of children, with no political motivation. One of the signs was removed and replaced with a standard non-flashing version, and coincidentally that took place shortly after a petition was circulated to have them removed. A petition that oddly only gathered 25 signatures before action was taken.

Why was the stop sign removed? The original reason for the removal was that a sign at another location was not working, and the village pulled the sign from the corner of Scott and Eden to use as a replacement, and that the one at Scott and Eden would be replaced when a new one arrived. As of the Schiller Park School District 81 School Board meeting on January 18th 2017 it was reported that the lighted sign at Forster and Linn had still not been replaced with the sign removed from Scott, and Eden. As of yesterday January 26th 2017 the lighted sign at Forster and Linn was still not working, and the sign at Scott and Eden was still a standard non-flashing sign. What makes the Sign at Forster and Linn so important that a village president would feel the need to remove one sign to replace another that is not working. Then replace the removed sign with the replacement when it arrives? Why not simply leave the non-operating sign in place waiting for replacement? Or as an alternative theory maybe the sign at Scott and Eden was removed to please a complaining voter, and the story about using that as a replacement to a broken sign was simply back pedaling on a bad choice? (EDIT- I was told recently, but have not verified Yet that the village had a meeting to discuss issues with the School Signs, and traffic, and at another meeting the Mayor asked the Director of Public works to explain and back up her position to have the sign switched that he himself may not have ordered, in essence put the Director of Public works on the spot for something he did not order done. He has since resigned). If that were the case the choice to please a complaining resident took priority over a program the Mayor herself advocated for as an increase in child safety. Who is leading who in Schiller Park? The mayor or the voters?

Who is leading who in Schiller Park? The Mayor or the Voters? It’s my belief that neither are calling the shots, and let me explain why? We have an arguably thorny complainer in the Mayors ear about a stop sign that is located in front of his house, and is a blight on his life and to the community. He presents a single 25 person petition to the mayor and suddenly the sign is gone (Interesting to know that the person who circulated the stop sign petition also had a petition to stop the installation of speed signs, and he had a petition for the Mayor to run for re-election, campaign favor?). It has been reported that the remaining speed signs have been returned and will not be installed.

You also have a significant portion of the community complaining about speeding around the Schools, and busses for months if not years, and still no solution has been attempted. Yes flashing stop signs were installed, but the reports of severe speeding around all three schools continue with almost no enforcement at all. Other parents post to Social Media with complaint after complaint of difficulties with the new traffic arrangements at Kennedy School yet the village blames traffic control on the School, its procedures, and its staff. The standard passing of unloading School busses, and what has been described to me as “The Soreng Drag strip” by Lincoln Middle School have been problems for years. I have witnessed first hand the staff of all three of these schools often putting themselves at risk to try and deal with this issue, an issue that is 100% a village level issue, and not School District staff. How many children have been hit in Schiller Park? How many more have to get hit before the village president will stop pandering to campaign supporters, and listen to the voters? Because that seems to be who is actually in charge of Schiller Park, the Campaign supporters not the voters or the Mayor.

That is in fact what it looks like to me and many others. It gives the appearance that the Mayor of Schiller Park only cares what is best for the people who support her campaign. If you circulate one of her petitions you have her ear type of situation. These are very serious issues regarding the lives and safety of children at a minimum, but truly affect every person that lives in or passes through Schiller Park.

Stop governing based off of your supporters needs and start governing towards what the community needs.

Flashing Stop Sign

What happened to the flashing stop sign at Kennedy School in Schiller Park?

All I know is that it is gone. Poof, just as fast as they went up one of the new flashing stop signs near the villages schools just disappeared.

The “Safe Routes to School” initiative is a federally funded program designed to improve the safety of the children that walk to and from our schools. With the Village of Schiller Park receiving money to implement that very initiative. A collaborative effort between School District 81 and the village included purchasing solar illuminated stop signs and vehicle speed feedback signs designed to increase pedestrian safety around all of the village’s schools. Part of the initiative was completed a few months back and the stop signs have been helping remind motor vehicle operators in Schiller park that stopping at stop signs is not only the law, it involves the safety of children.

This “Safe Routes to School” initiative didn’t sit well with everyone, and despite the efforts by many to reduce the signs hours of operation one resident took it on himself to spearhead a campaign to stop the federally funded efforts to help keep the Children of Schiller Park safe. He circulated a petition to have the sign removed, attended village hall, and School Board meetings (Correction: He never attended School Board meetings on this subject). He indicated to some that the flashing of these stop signs disrupted his quality of life, and were a disruption to the community. On Wednesday January 11th I noticed that the flashing stop sign at the corner of Scott and Eden streets in Schiller Park was gone, and had been replaced by a standard none illuminated version. I am not sure exactly when it was replaced as I do not travel that route daily.

History of Safe Routes to School

The SRTS concept began in the late 1970s in Denmark over concern for the city’s pedestrian accident rate. The city implemented a number of improvements including a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, slow speed areas, narrowed roads and traffic islands. The result was an 85 percent reduction in traffic injuries to children.

The first SRTS program in the United States began in 1997 in the Bronx borough of New York City. In August 2005, federal transportation legislation devoted $612 million for the federal SRTS Program from 2005 through 2009. In 2012, SRTS activities were eligible to compete for funding through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill.

Benefits of Safe Routes to School

SRTS programs can help reverse the downward trend in physical activity levels among children. Walking and bicycling to and from school can contribute towards the development of a lifelong habit of incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Children who walk to school are more physically active overall than those who travel to school by car. Among the benefits of successful SRTS programs are:

Reducing the number of children hit by cars.
-Reducing congestion around schools. Parents driving their children to school account -for 20 percent to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic. (Source: NHTSA 2003; Dept. of Environment).
-Improving children’s health though physical activity.
-Reducing air pollution.
-Saving money for schools, through a reduction of the need for bussing children who live close to school.
-Improving community security by increasing eyes on the street.
-Increasing children’s sense of freedom.
-Teaching pedestrian and bicycle skills.

What does all this mean in Schiller Park?

First and foremost it means that at one point the safety of our walking School Children was important, but in reality not so important that the complaints of one seemingly never happy resident took priority over the previously mentioned safety of our school aged walking children.

One could also argue that the intersection of Scott and Eden has the highest volume of student foot traffic, more then any other intersection in the village. With over 800 students at nine years old or less attending Kennedy School it’s sad that the leadership of the village of Schiller Park (specifically the mayor) would put the unhappiness of one individual, and his very small petition above the safety of more then 800 students and remove a safety devise at arguably the most crowded school intersection in the village. It sends a very unfortunate message to the remainder of the population of Schiller Park.

In Schiller Park the squeaky wheel apparently gets all the oil. Even if it reduces the safety of children walking to and from Kennedy School.

 

Portions of this post taken from the following web sites:

http://www.idot.illinois.gov

http://www.saferoutesinfo.org

MWRD and Schiller Park

How Friendly is the MWRD and Schiller Park? And what is that friendship doing to the construction of the Kennedy expansion? This is a subject that does not matter if you agree with the expansion or not. This is a situation that could be a prime example of bad government playing games to get what they desire.

MWRD – Metropolitan Water Reclimation District.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), originally known as the Sanitary District of Chicago is a special-purpose district, chartered to operate in northern Illinois since 1889. Although its name may imply otherwise, it is not a part of the City of Chicago’s local government, but an independent agency of state government with an elected Board of Commissioners. MWRDGC’s main purpose is the reclamation and treatment of wastewater and flood water abatement in Cook County to protect the health and safety of citizens and of area waterways. Perhaps its most notable achievement is the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River in 1900.

As stated above it has an elected Board of commissioners.

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  • Mariyana Spyropoulos – President
  • Barbara J Mcgowan – Vice President
  • Frank Avila – Director of Finance
  • Michael A Alvarez – Commitioner
  • Timothy Bradford – Commitioner
  • Cynthia M Santos – Commitioner
  • Debra Shore – Commitioner
  • Kari K Steel – Commitioner
  • David J Walsh – Commitioner

Original page found here

This is a list of the people who are in charge of the departments of the MWRD. One of those departments deals with the issuing of permits.

I have heard from more then a few citizens that this sort of delay in the issuing of a permit for the MWRD is not the norm. They have told me they feel something else must be going on. What could possibly be going on?

I posted earlier about the rumor of one John Zalud from the Village of Schiller Park being at fault for the delay. This started the endless searching for proof of such a rumor. But did I find anything?

Maybe not about MR Zalud specifically but other oddities.

Like the owner of the Village of Schiller Parks Acounting/auditor firm GW & Associates PC, one David A Gonzalez. You might recognize the name because he is the Mayor of Chicago Heights.

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How about Frank Avila, recognize that name?

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He (or his son) is the listed agent for the -Illinois Committee For Honest Government-. Don’t recognize that name? Take a look at the paid for by above the address.

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Why would a Commissioner or his son pay for mailers for a Schiller Park political party running on the Mayor of Schiller Parks party?

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I’m sure you recognize the name from the above list of MWRD Commitioners. Particularly the director of finance, or possibly his son Frank B Avila.  Same family, interesting coincidence.

Additionally Frank B, the son of Frank M on MWRD was reported to have been at Kennedy School during the April election presumably participating in talking to people as they walked in to vote. I can not confirm this of course but find this interesting.

If you look at the list of Commitioners for the MWRD you will see a Cynthia M Santos, and again Frank Avila. Here is a picture of them presenting an award to our Mayor Barbara Piltaver.

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left to right we have Frank Avila, Mayor Barbara Piltaver, Cynthia Santos, and Patrick D Thompson

Do you want to know what else they have in common with all the people listed above? An organization named the Carlisle Group Action Committee, or Carlisle Group LLC.

Who is Carlisle Group Action Committee? What is their purpose? How are they connected to Schiller Park?

Well to start the Carlisle Group Action Committee maintains a Schiller Park PO Box (PoBox 2002, Schiller Park Illinois). Have they contributed to Schiller Park politics directly? Not that I have found yet, but indirectly?

An organization that has a Schiller Park PO Box has donated a total of 53,260.00 to the Cynthia Santos Campain for MWRD Commitioner.

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Mayor of Chicago heights David A Gonzalez (owner of Schiller Parks Auditing firm GW & Associates) has received a few thousand from the group.

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One other local organization that has received money donations from Carlisle Group Action committee or Carlisle Group LLC is the Leyden Township Leadership Fund under Paul Marnell.

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In turn we see Donations from the Leyden Township Democratic Organization giving money to the Cynthia Santos campaign and receiving money for services rendered from the Michael Alvarez, and Barbar McGowen Campain. All three of the last names are current Commisioners of the MWRD.

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Why would MWRD campaigns need services from a Leyden Township Political Group?  I can’t answer that, but what I will be happy to say is that something very fishy is going on here. It stinks like politics, and we all know what politics does to School Systems. See Chicago Public School System for details.

Stand up and tell your Mayor to fix this. Tell her to STOP messing around with the future of education in Schiller Park, and use her “connections” to get this straitened out. This is all assuming of course it is not her doing in some way.

Much more to come.