Crestwood, saving money at the expense of the public
In the heated race for the 6th Cook County Board District, Patricia Joan Murphy offers taxpayers a better chance of standing up to tax increases. Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta reflects Crestwood’s record of failing to defend taxpayer rights. Crestwood’s history and recent newspaper disclosures about Presta’s past problems with tax debt and red light cameras raises serious questions
By Ray Hanania
(Published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group March 8, 2018)
I first became acquainted with Crestwood in the late 1970s when a police officer there called claiming then Mayor Chester Stranczek ordered police to shoot stray dogs. The order would “save money” by not requiring the village to chase them down.
After I wrote the story, Stranczek and officials there got angry, first because I wrote the story and second because I refused to identify the officer, the whistle blower who I consider to be a hero. The anonymous phone threats wouldn’t stop.
Crestwood was known for refunding resident property taxes, and that meant they needed to find ways to save money. But it just doesn’t seem that the price the public has to pay so Crestwood can “save money” hasn’t been worth it at all.
I made it a habit not to drive through Crestwood, fearing I might get pulled over and who knows what could happen in a Crestwood jail? They might force me to drink the water there.
As it turned out, to save money, Crestwood officials figured they could save money by ignoring EPA safety regulations, mixing poisoned water into the village water system between 1985 and 2007. How many people got cancer from that outrageous “money-saving” practice?
The tiny, 3-square-mile village of under 11,000 residents can’t seem to get away from officials who want to “save money.”
Both ABC TV’s “I-Team” and the Chicago Tribune have slammed Crestwood for their abusive red-light camera system. In fact, of 85 suburban communities that have red light cameras, the Chicago Tribune asserts Crestwood is the “most prolific ticketer in the suburbs.”
Many of the Crestwood red light camera intersections have been denounced as “traps” intended to squeeze drivers for their money, rather than to make the community safer, as Crestwood asserts on its village website.
That’s a history no one should be proud of. So, I am surprised that the mayor there, Lou Presta, instead of rolling up his sleeves to change that poor public image, is instead running for the 6th Cook County District seat that was held for many years by the late Joan Patricia Murphy. Murphy died in September 2016 and was succeeded by Edward Moody, who decided not to run for election.
Murphy’s daughter, Patricia Joan Murphy, is on the ballot running to succeed where her mother left-off and is in a head-to-head battle with Crestwood’s Mayor, Presta to win the March 18 Democratic primary. Donna Miller is also in the race.
I know both Murphy and Presta, although not very well. Murphy has reached out repeatedly to provide me with information about her candidacy but Presta and Miller have not. When I did research on the three candidates, Crestwood’s pathetic history kept dominating the Google searches.
And there is the Sun-Times disclosure that Presta owes a lot of money in back taxes. Presta says it’s from a bad investment and he’s paying it all back.
I’m not sure how a person who owes the IRS can stand up for the needs of taxpayers. But that’s what Presta claims.
IN OTHER RACES: Bob Fioretti is mounting a strong campaign to unseat Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who was bruised by a stupid political decision to impose a one cent per ounce tax on sweetened drinks and soda pop. Even her supporters abandoned her when County Commissioner Sean Morrison introduced a repeal ordinance that passed despite her objections. Fioretti is a credible anti-tax alternative.
Kwame Raoul’s TV Commercials touting his candidacy for Illinois Attorney General are pretty lame. Raoul succeeded Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate. But then I heard him speak at a candidate’s breakfast hosted by the Lyons Township Democratic organization. I was moved by his comments and understanding of the issues including fighting gun related crimes, being an independent voice, and standing up to Gov. Rauner. I wish he would have put “that candidate” in his TV Ads. He is a very powerful speaker, not a meek successor to Obama. That needs to come out in the next two weeks because right now, name recognition is the driving force for most voters.
(Ray Hanania is an award-winning opinion columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Contact him through his webpage at www.RayHanania.com.)