What Does The Future Of Public Education Look Like?

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I don’t think anyone really knows, and that alone is pretty damned frightening.

I want to talk about something I normally don’t. National news, and I only choose to do this because it could so seariously affect the education of the children in Schiller Park.

It is also more important now then ever that we stand up, and speak out in defense of our School system, and public education in its entirety.

In a 51 to 50 vote Betsy DeVos (A main player behind the Michigan charter school systems that is being called by some “the biggest school reform disaster in this country” will now be the guiding force behind this country’s public education system. A wealthy campaign contributor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system. (Here, here, and here)

When she was nominated to the post in November, she was called “a brilliant and passionate education advocate” by President Trump, But her performance before the nomination committee had her in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In the end two Republican senators said they could not back her, leaving the vote tied at 50-50, and it was Vice-President Mike Pence who cast the vote that confirmed Betsy Devos

Prior to her hearing, labor unions, rights groups and teaching organisations spoke out against her appointment. So why is she so unpopular?

Mrs DeVos, age 59, is a wealthy Republican Party donar and a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman who has long campaigned for education reform in the state. Her husband Dick DeVos was a CEO of the beauty and nutrition giant Amway and her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security company Blackwater.

Most of the problems with Mrs DeVos focus on her support of charter schools, which are publicly funded and set up by teachers, parents, or community groups, outside the state school system. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said her work in Michigan involved “elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools” despite “overwhelming evidence” that charter schools were no more successful than their traditional counterparts.
In the past she lead the fight to loosen oversight of charter schools in Michigan, and less oversight of charter schools could allow them to pursue a creationist, evangelical agenda. The New York Times reported that she had told a meeting of Christian philanthropists in 2001 that education reform was a way to “advance God’s kingdom”.

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press in December highlighted concerns in Michigan over her appointment. “DeVos isn’t an educator, or an education leader,” it read. “She’s not an expert in pedagogy or curriculum or school governance. In fact, she has no relevant credentials or experience for a job setting standards and guiding dollars for the nation’s public schools. “She is, in essence, a lobbyist – someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them.”. One of the two Republican senators who said they could not support Mrs DeVos, Susan Collins of Maine, said she was “concerned that Mrs DeVos’ lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist” challenges facing rural schools in particular.

The concerns over her qualifications were furthered last month after her confirmation hearing. In perhaps the most uncomfortable moment, she struggled to show she was familiar with the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act (Idea), a federal law that requires public schools to make accommodations for disabled students. The American Association of People with Disabilities said it was “very concerned” that she seemed “unfamiliar with the Idea and the protections it provides to students with disabilities”. It was not the most striking moment of the session though – that was when Mrs DeVos, discussing whether to allow firearms in schools, noted that a Wyoming school might need a gun to defend against grizzly bears.

What does this mean for the Schiller Park public school system? In all reality I don’t even think the educators here, or in this country know how this will affect the process of educating the nations youth. One thing I do know, you will have a hard time finding anyone that works in public education who is excited about this appointment.

 

 

 

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.

Truth Vs Lies

Born to believe 
Many writers and historians believe that human beings are conditioned to believe, rather than disbelieve. Their for giving power to the liar, and their versions of the “facts”

Let’s do an experiment:

…you hear a noise in the grass. Is it a predator, or is it the wind? Your next choice could be the most important of your life. If you think that the noise in the grass is a predator and it turns out it’s the wind, you have made an error in cognition, a false positive. But no harm done. You just move away, you are more cautious, more vigilant.

On the other hand, if you believe that the noise in the grass is just the wind, and it turns out to be a predator, you’re done. Life is over.

A false positive in this case makes you more cautious, but it really costs nothing to believe that there maybe danger behind the noise.

In contrast to the false positive not believing in the danger, amd actually having it exist was deadly, and so we choose to believe. But more than just believing in that possible danger we tend to create patterns. That I turn helps us structure our lives. It creates meaning to what could easily be random. It is from there that we develop things like superstition and conspiracy theories. They make sense of what is random.

Patterns
If this were all humans had to rely on for cognition — our limited brains making sense of that what we can’t understand — we would be in big trouble. Thankfully, however, we have verifiable facts. They ensure that what is random not just makes sense, but is also true.

And that’s where we get into some even more fascinating research about why people believe outright lies — easy to disprove lies like the kinds Donald Trump tells for example.

According to some, people tend to believe lies when they feel vulnerable. The less control people have over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics. Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astray, they’re extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need.

In normal life people find false patterns in data all the time. When they do, it’s usually because they feel a given situation is out of their control. A local example would be the Kennedy School Adition, people didn’t understand the numbers, felt out of control, and believed the lies spread to help ease their fear. It was easier to be angry and believe the false information that the School District was deceiving the community then it was to learn the difficult details and facts.

Fact or fiction
Of course, the more false the pattern, the more vulnerable you have to be to believe it. And of course, the more gymnastics your brain has to do to find the truth. The difficulty of the gymnastics mixed with fear or anger make the lies and falsehoods simply easier. That’s why certain individuals have very little other then tax complaints and fear of who I am to complain about.

Donald Trump, a man who is known for spreading falsehoods. He captured the imaginations of many people who felt vulnerable because of the past, present and future. He resonated in places of high unemployment, where manufacturing jobs have been on the decline for decades. These are places where a rational structure is needed to explain why things got so bad and why they don’t seem to be getting better.

But again this is not “rationality” as we think about it terms of reality. If it were, individuals would seek the truth no matter what their state of distress, because it is only when a problem is truly understood that the truth can be found.

Here is a relevant example. Donald Trump has dumped on China over and over again since he entered the national spotlight. He’s said that we are losing jobs to Chinese manufacturing and that the Trans Pacific Partnership was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.

In the world of facts, however, we know that thousands and thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation, not off-shoring to China. We also know that China is not involved with the TPP in any way. In fact, the country has been upset about TPP since talks for the agreement started.

The human desire to feel in control supersedes all of those facts because they are hard to find or understand, and in turn, pushes us to believe what may be irrational, but is simple, understandable, and gives us a sense of control.

Think about it: Say you believe all the lies  Donald Trump has told about trade, China and the global economy. It’s a comforting notion, ultimately, because it means he also has the solutions. Voting for him, then, is a way to take control of that untruth.

Unfortunately, since it’s a lie, the problem will remain. Lies never solve anything, and the spreading of them by those in this community simply acting on revenge or some unknown agenda just make things worse. Things won’t change until we embrace the truth, and put in the effort to identify who is telling it, and who is not.

Why is Anonymity So Important

Why is anonymity so important?

Has David C Stachura taken it on himself in declaring the US Supreme Court wrong, and the First Amendment invalid? Of course he wouldn’t/couldn’t use those exact words. That is however the image he portrays with his devotion to my spine or lack there of simply based on my perceived anonymity. He has declared my message to be false simply because he and many others do not know me. Simply not knowing the author of a history book does not make it less true. Not knowing who wrote the dictionary doesn’t make its definitions false, or inaccurate.

People through anonymity can express themselves without fear of reprisal. In Schiller Park specifically there has always been a trend among the “Wrong Doers” (Description used based off of my point of view) to attack and harass those who speak up against them, they would metaphorically beat them into silence by attacking and harassing them, and their families. We saw it on a regular basis with the old, School Board leadership of David Stachura and Patricia Godziszewski. It has always been my opinion that in most cases they perpetrated those harassment campaigns through, and with the help of Roy F McCampbell. I do however feel that their once close group has been disrupted by parts of their group not being able to perform their assigned task, but it was the situation none the less. The smear campaign against the School District, its staff, and supporters became harassment on an epic scale. That is in fact why this blog was created in the first place. We wanted to give a voice to the majority of the community that could be safe from the onslaught of harassment intended to silence that voice. We wanted to have a voice that disarmed them of their only form of attack. You can not harass into silence that witch you can not identify.

The former group of troublemakers has for the most part devolved into one final voice spewing nothing but anger and hate. There is very little coherence left in what once was a consistent and unified all be it very negative voice, but that sole survivor seems hell bent on discrediting me simply based off of my perceived anonymity. In all actuality he does not even known for sure if his thoughts are true. I can only imagine the frustration caused by having someone tirelessly call you out on your lies, and not be able to specifically target their name with a smear campaign as has been their past practices, but none the less he continues with his school yard name calling.

Anonymity is the tool I chose to embrace to defend and protect my children and grand children. To protect my name I lessened my message, and by keeping the details of my identity secret I made more work for myself. This had a positive effect of forcing me to be more diligent in offering as much proof of my claims and opinions as possible. I feel for the most part I have succeeded. Of course I have my detractors, the people that obviously despise my very existence. They need no introduction but they hate none the less, and attempt to discredit my information as lies simply by declaring my secrets to be the key proof of my dishonesty. This is of course not true, and simply just another vain attempt at strengthening their position among the very harshly divided political portion of this community. For every hater there is at least one supporter, and if my hate mail to support mail ratio is an indicator, these is by far more for my information then against.

Anonymity has been a heated topic for far longer then any of us have been involved. It’s clear to me that anonymity is both good and bad. Anonymity has its place, and has always had a place in society. But the Internet is something new. Does anonymity have a right to exist as such on this new medium even if the risk is great? Twenty years ago, there was no Internet and we were doing fine with the issue of pre-Internet anonymity, so would technologically ending internet anonymity once and for all be a disaster? What changed that makes anonymity on the internet so important? And what would things be like if the internet had evolved to this day with anonymity being an impossibility? Ask yourself if we would be demanding anonymity on the Internet if we never had it in the first place.

Curiously, and in most cases with some exceptions like those I face with the aforementioned individual, those for and against anonymity seem to often have the same motivation—protecting democracy and freedom. The pro folks say that taking political debate to the highest level of discussion is not possible without some anonymity. Whistle blowers are a good example of why anonymity is necessary. Once they are discovered, they are fired and ruined. The anonymity folks will cite examples from law enforcement showing how attacking organized crime in particular and crime in general would be impossible without the use of anonymous sources. As I said before, I have chosen anonymity for my families freedom from persecution. Those honest individuals against anonymity would argue that in crime-fighting, anonymous sources are not reliable and can be abused, leading to the ruin of innocent people. Furthermore, anonymity is often used to illegally move secret information. People and corporations are often libeled by those who spread false information. In fact, a Schiller Park resident attempted to challenge my anonymity in court not to long ago, and did not succeed. This if nothing else was one of this blogs greatest success stories as it added validation to my message, and goals. It does not in any way prove what I have said as truth, that still remains in the hands of my readers, but it protected my freedom of speech by declaring I was not acting out of malice.
The United States Supreme Court has declared that protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

I have included at the end of this post a small gallery of examples to my point. The individual mentioned above still resorts to personal attacks, of me and my family despite not even knowing who we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Justice For Bellwood?

Justice for Bellwood, or the taxpayers of Illinois?

A 2010 Tribune investigation revealed that McCampbell had been paid $472,255 in 2009 for holding 10 job titles. Roy McCampbell said in a Tribune investigative story that he earned every penny of his $472,000 salary. When McCampbell retired early the next year, the pay spike inflated his annual pension to about a quarter of a million dollars. At the time the highest of any retiree in the statewide pension system that serves municipal workers outside Chicago.

Then In December of 2011 officials with Bellwood sued the former comptroller Roy McCampbell, they alleged he destroyed the village’s financial credit, and left the suburb with more then a million in debt. The lawsuit accused McCampbell of fraud and legal malpractice and that he breached his fiduciary responsibility to the village.

According to the suit, McCampbell drew up increasingly lucrative contracts for himself, and signed tax-increment finance deals that have left the village in financial distress. McCampbell was under increased scrutiny following the Tribune investigation that showed he was paid the $472,255, and In August of 2012 the Cook County states attorney’s office indicted McCampbell with five felony counts of theft. (https://archive.org/stream/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood_djvu.txt)

Fast forward now to November 30th 2016 and we finally have a result of the endless process that is our legal system, and those who know how to work it.

Roy F McCampbell, pleaded guilty on November 30th 2016 to misdemeanor theft before Cook County Judge Timothy James Joyce. He was given two years probation and was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. 

Thats it, no jail time what so ever.  I guess I should not dismiss the results as simply nothing. He is now a convicted thief, and the McCampbellites can no longer argue that he is innocent until proven guilty. They spent years defending a thief, and that will never change. He is a thief who is in my opinion also an expert at manipulating “the system” to his benefit alone. When I say “the system” I mean every system that he has comes in contact with.

Is this justice for Bellwood or any of the other communities he has targeted? Is this justice for the tax payers of Illinois? I will have to let you be the judge of that, and answer the question yourselves.

More to come

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