Dillard bill targeting ‘flash mobs’ signed into law by governor A new law signed on May 18 targets recent incidents of violent “flash mobs” that have occurred in Chicago, which Senate co-sponsor Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) said will allow for increased penalties to be imposed on people who use social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, to coordinate mob action. Senate Bill 1005/Public Act 98-0014 was introduced following several flash mob attacks in downtown Chicago. The individuals involved were largely strangers who reportedly had utilized social media as a way to organize the disruptive and even violent attacks on pedestrians. Dillard said that it is important to reassure the public—including local residents, tourists and employers—that mob action will not be tolerated. “Obviously our concern is that we don’t want people being assaulted because someone thought it’d be fun to get on Facebook and invite a bunch of strangers to get together and wreak havoc in the streets,” said Dillard. “There are also reports that organized street gangs are now using social media to plot systematic shootings and assaults on rival gangs, sometimes leading to murder. People need to know—especially young people—that there are serious repercussions for this criminal behavior.” The term “flash mob” has been used in recent years in reference to a group of people using social media to assemble suddenly in a public place. While most often participants gathered to participate in some sort of theatrical performance, Dillard explained that in recent years flash mobs have been coordinated to commit batteries, robberies and thefts. Senate Bill 1005 allows the courts to impose an extended term sentence for those convicted of using electric communications to solicit or commit mob action. By increasing penalties for participation in a criminal flash mob, Dillard said the state hopes to deter future violent and aggressive gatherings. “We not only have to consider public safety, but there is a public perception issue, as well. People travel from across the globe to visit Illinois, and we want them to feel safe and comfortable while they are here,” Dillard said. “As a prominent business leader told me just the other day, ‘we can solve all of Illinois’ economic problems, but if there is the perception that it is unsafe to walk down our streets without being accosted by teenagers and thugs, then we have a real problem.” Echoing the senator’s concerns, Marc Gordon, president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association has said, “Criminal flash mobs discourage tourism and create an environment of fear and uncertainty for businesses. Our hotel members and their guests will sleep easier knowing these criminal acts can be detected and deterred in the planning stage.” Illinois Retail Merchants Association vice president Tanya Triche remarked at the Saturday signing, “We want to [retain] safe places for people to come and shop and enjoy our city.” Having been signed into law by the governor, Senate Bill 1005/Public Act 98-0014 will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Garage fire causes $80,000 damage to two homes, garage and car by Bonnie MacKay A neighbor, who spotted smoke coming from a garage across the street, alerted residents that their garage was on fire last week. The Lombard Fire Department responded to a report of a garage fire at 1139 S. Edgewood Ave. at about 9:38 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Firefighters were on the scene by 9:41 p.m. According to acting Lombard Fire Battalion Chief Brian Stuart, fire companies discovered a fully involved fire of an unattached garage upon arrival. Lombard Fire Battalion Chief Art Peters, head of the department’s Fire Investigation Unit (FIU), said the neighbor’s view was somewhat blocked by the house. “That’s why we think he [the neighbor] didn’t see the flames right away,” Peters said, adding that after spotting the smoke, the neighbor went across the street to warn the residents, while a family member called 9-1-1. The residents were able to evacuate the home without incident. Heat from the garage fire caused damage to the two-story single family residence as well as to an adjacent home. According to Peters, the damage was to the plastic siding. A car in the garage, an older model Jaguar, was also significantly damaged. The damage to the garage, car and two homes is estimated to be $80,000. No injuries were reported in the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by members of FIU, but Peters said due to the collapse of the garage roof, investigators must wait to go in until the structure is made safe by the insurance company. On Tuesday, Peters said, “We’re still working it. No cause yet.” The Lombard Fire Department was assisted by the Downers Grove, Oak Brook and Villa Park fire departments and the York Center Fire Protection District.
Memorial Day program to be held May 27 The Lombard Memorial Day program will be held at the Veterans Memorial in Common Park (St. Charles and Grace) in the Sunken Garden on May 27 at noon. The Lombard Historical Society will be presenting “Letters and Stories from the Fronts.” They will be offering actual stories or letters from Lombardians who have served our country over time in various wars and conflicts. Anyone interested in sharing their stories is asked to contact the Lombard Historical Museum at 630-629-1885. The program will also feature remarks from service members and other members of the community. Members of the Lombard Veterans of Foreign Wars, Viet Now and the Lombard American Legion will be participating in the program. The Glenbard East High School Eastwind vocalists will be singing the national anthem and other musical selections. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the Lombard Memorial Marker, which contains the names of Lombard residents who served or were killed in the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, and Viet Nam. (No Lombard residents are recorded as being killed in the Korean War.) Veterans of the armed services, members of the community and scouts are invited to attend the ceremony. Attendees are asked to walk, if they are able, to the program and to bring a lawn chair. “On Memorial Day we recognize those individuals who have served our country in the military during times of conflict or war,” said Police Lt. Scott Watkins, Memorial Day Committee chair. “In particular we recognize those individuals who made the greatest sacrifice and gave their lives for our country.” In the event of severe weather the program will be held indoors at the Lombard Village Hall.
Bill to help reduce government costs The Illinois Senate on April 25 unanimously passed legislation initiated by Chairman Dan Cronin that would provide the county with the ability to reduce the cost of government by streamlining local agencies. “I am extremely pleased with the Senate’s overwhelming support of Senate Bill 494. This legislation will provide the county with the authority to reduce the size, scope and cost of local government when it is deemed in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Cronin. Senate Bill 494 unanimously passed the Senate 51-0. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cullerton and Don Harmon, provides DuPage County with the authority to dissolve, by ordinance, outdated or defunct county-appointed agencies. The bill also provides protection for residents through a provision that allows voters to reject the initiative. The legislation would potentially impact county appointed (non-elected) governmental agencies that provide public services such as sanitary, mosquito abatement, fire protection (without full-time employees) and street lighting. The legislation will further assist in the county’s mission to streamline local government. The board recently assessed the finances and operations of the county’s appointed agencies that account for nearly $300 million in taxpayer money and employ approximately 900 people. Following the assessment, Cronin launched the DuPage ACT Initiative (Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency) that serves as a roadmap for agencies to follow in an effort to comply with DuPage County policies. So far, several agencies have adopted the county’s ethics ordinance that allows the entities to utilize the Ethics Commission and Investigator General for ethics complaints. The initiative has also prompted the passage of procurement and personnel policies. Through shared services and eliminating unnecessary positions and expenses, the Election Commission has saved taxpayers nearly $700,000. The ACT Initiative also led to the dissolution of an obsolete sanitary district, Timberlake Estates, which is located in unincorporated Downers Grove. The sanitary district had not provided service to residents for nearly 30 years. Cronin worked with State’s Attorney Robert Berlin for nearly two years to pursue a legal remedy to formally eliminate the Timberlake Estates Sanitary District. Despite the county’s management of the system since 1985, the district continued to appear on residents’ property tax bills with a “zero” levy. Last month, a DuPage County judge authorized the dissolution of the sanitary district after the county provided evidence showing that an overwhelming majority of residents supported the initiative. Cronin said the passage of Senate Bill 494 is necessary as it will provide the county with the authority to take steps to dissolve obsolete agencies, such as the Timberlake Estates Sanitary District, without having to deal with multiple layers of government red tape per state statute. “Through the DuPage ACT Initiative, we have achieved millions in dollars of cost savings for taxpayers. However, our hands are tied to go any further without legislative action. We must be able to act more swiftly, when appropriate, without being entangled in this web of legal machinations like what we experienced with Timberlake Estates,” said Cronin. Senate Bill 494 now advances to the Illinois House.
IDOC inmate found guilty of soliciting murders of DuPage County officials DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced last week that after approximately three hours of deliberations, a jury found Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) inmate Gordon Vanderark, 56, formerly of Wheaton, guilty of soliciting the murder of two DuPage County officials. The jury reached their verdict after a five day-long trial held in front of Judge George Bakalis. Beginning on Dec. 27, 2010, through Nov. 15, 2011, while incarcerated at the Centralia Correctional Center, Vanderark solicited a fellow inmate to kill Judge Blanche Hill Fawell and assistant state’s attorney Audrey Anderson upon the inmate’s release from prison. Vanderark agreed to pay the “hitman” $70,000 for the murders and had already paid him more than $2,000 in advance. After receiving information about the plot, IDOC authorities, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation into the matter resulting in the charges. “Approximately two and a half years ago, Gordon Vanderark hatched a plot to get even with those he felt were responsible for his incarceration,” Berlin said. “Today, after hearing all the evidence against him, a jury held Mr. Vanderark responsible for his actions and found him guilty of attempting to have two officers of the court murdered. I would like to thank Judge George Bakalis for ensuring a fair trial for both sides in this case, as well as the jury for seeing through Mr. Vanderark’s ridiculous claims of tough talk and jailhouse bravado. I would also like to thank officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections as well as [DuPage County] Sheriff John Zaruba and his staff for uncovering Mr. Vanderark’s murderous plot.” Vanderark’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 5 for return of the pre-sentencing report. He faces a minimum of 20 years in the IDOC. On Dec. 20, 2010, Fawell sentenced Vanderark to 16 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after he pled guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a Class X felony.
Man charged with videotaping in hospital bathroom DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced May 18 that a Franklin Park man has been charged with unlawful videotaping, a Class 4 felony, for allegedly videotaping women while they used the washroom at Elmhurst Hospital. Salvador Perez, 49, appeared in bond court, where Judge Michael Wolfe set his bond at $150,000. It is alleged that on May 17, Perez positioned his cellular phone under the sink of a uni-sex bathroom at the hospital. It is further alleged that Perez positioned the phone so that the video camera on the phone would record the toilet area of the bathroom. It is alleged that after putting the phone in the bathroom, Perez activated the video record function and exited the bathroom. That same day, while a woman was using the bathroom, the cellular phone fell from beneath the sink. The woman alerted authorities, resulting in the charges against Perez. “The allegations against Mr. Perez are very disturbing,” Berlin said. “Invading another person’s privacy in such a manner will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law. I would like to thank the Elmhurst Police Department for their work on this case, as well as authorities at Elmhurst Hospital for their cooperation. I would also like to thank Assistant State’s Attorney Kirsten King for her efforts.” Perez's next court appearance is scheduled for June in front of Judge George Bakalis. As an additional condition of bond, Perez will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device after posting bond.
Public meeting on Terrace View Pond May 23 The Village of Lombard will hold a public information meeting on the Terrace View Pond Improvements Project. The meeting will be held on May 23 at 7 p.m. in the village hall board room. A powerpoint presentation will be made at the start of the meeting which will cover the design of the project, construction sequencing and various other topics. The presentation will run for approximately 20 minutes. After the presentation, time will be allotted for attendees to ask questions related to the project. Afterward, individuals will be directed to the Community Room where they will have an opportunity to discuss particular issues with the village staff and project engineer, Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. of Rosemont.
District 44 earns award for its financial reporting Lombard Elementary School District 44 has announced that for the sixth year in a row the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) has awarded the district a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting. According to Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tod Altenburg, the district received this prestigious recognition for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2012. ASBO International established the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) Program to encourage and recognize excellence in CAFRs. Experienced accounting professionals with a background in governmental accounting and auditing developed the program guidelines based upon specific standards established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The purpose of a CAFR is to report on the financial position and operations of the school system (including its blended component units) and provide an overview of the discretely presented component units. The CAFR enables school business officials to educate school boards and the public about the status of a school system's finances. Applications are received from more than 400 school systems and community-supported educational institutions annually. District 44 is pleased to receive this award from ASBO because it underscores the district’s commitment to educate the “whole child” in order to achieve personal excellence, while being financially responsible to its stakeholders. For those who are unable to attend the meeting, the powerpoint presentation will be available on the village Web site after May 20. The presentation will be under the “Quick Links” portion of the front page.