Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cicero approves new Sonic Drive-in restaurant and state-of-the-art Fuller’s Car Wash; to bring as many as 130 new jobs for local residents

Bookmark and Share

Cicero approves new Sonic Drive-in restaurant and state-of-the-art Fuller’s Car Wash; to bring as many as 130 new jobs for local residents

Cicero – Town President Larry Dominick announced Tuesday that Fuller’s Car Wash and Sonic Drive-In restaurant will partner to open on a shared parcel of now vacant property at 2900-38 S. Cicero Avenue beginning in early 2012.

The proposal to license Fuller’s and the Sonic’s restaurant received the unanimous support of the Town of Cicero Board at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011.

Sonic representative Michael Perry told the board that the new Restaurant and Car Wash will create as many as 130 new jobs during the initial opening phase of the restaurant and car wash.

“Thank you very much for allowing us to bring this in to the Town of Cicero. We are looking forward to this and are ready to move on the opportunity that the town have given us,” said Perry who owns and operates four of 14 Chicagoland Sonic restaurants in County Club Hills, Crest Hill, Lockport, and Joliet. The Cicero location will be the 15th Sonic’s Drive-in restaurant in the Chicagoland area.

Adam Fuller, representing Fuller’s Car Wash, said he is excited to be bringing the car wash to Cicero.

Perry said he expects construction to begin in late Spring with completion in mid-summer.

“About one-third of the employees will be full-time,” Perry said. Perry indicated that he expects that many of those employed will be high school and college students who return each summer for work.

President Dominick said that his priority is to bring new businesses and new jobs to the Town of Cicero and he welcomed the two new businesses.

“The new restaurant and car wash will make more jobs available to residents. That’s my concern for our community, especially in today’s economy,” Dominick said.

Dominick noted that the new Wirtz Beverage Illinois distribution and warehouse hub will employ more than 1,000 including about 200 new job positions.

Perry said he will work with the Town of Cicero to coordinate the announcement when job applications will be accepted.

“We are very excited to be working with the Town of Cicero,” Perry said.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Judge reverses jury verdict and grants Town of Cicero new trial in Rojas vs TOC

Bookmark and Share

Judge vacates Rojas jury verdict against Cicero President Larry Dominick
says Rojas attorney “engaged in a repeated pattern of misconduct”

Cicero – A federal Judge this week threw out a jury decision that Cicero Town President Larry Dominick had fired a former employee for political reasons and granted the Town’s motion for a new trial.

Chief Judge James F. Holderman also re-affirmed in the strongest language the jury’s original conclusion that President Dominick did not racially discriminate or slur the plaintiff, Merced Rojas.

In his strongly worded ruling, Judge Holderman denied a motion by Rojas’ attorney to re-try the racial discrimination charges and he accused the attorney, Dana Kurtz of misconduct that “tainted” the jury’s decisions against President Dominick.

Judge Holderman said that during the July 2011 trial, Dana Kurtz “engaged in a repeated pattern of misconduct.”

It is rare for a judge to reverse a jury’s decision. Judge Holderman’s decision vacates a $650,000 judgment. The judge’s action comes in response to post-trial motions filed by President Dominick’s attorneys.

The ruling is a major victory for Dominick who steadfastly denied ever discriminating against Merced Rojas because he is Mexican American. President Dominick has insisted that Rojas was not fired for political reasons but was dismissed because he had failed to do his job.

President Dominick said he was vindicated by the judge’s ruling and is eager to prove that Rojas was fired for failing to do his job for the taxpayers.

“I’m glad the judge reaffirmed the jury decision that there was no basis for the racial discrimination charges,” said Dominick, whose wife is Mexican American.

“I am also elated that Judge Holderman saw through the unethical political shenanigans of the Rojas lawsuit and threw out the jury’s decision that Mr. Rojas was fired for political reasons. Mr. Rojas was fired because he cheated the people of the Town of Cicero and did personal work for his own benefit while he was supposed to be working for the taxpayers of the Town of Cicero.”

In his ruling, Judge Holderman reprimanded Rojas’ attorney, Dana Kurtz, describing her conduct during the trial as unprofessional.

The judge wrote in his decision, “Plaintiff’s attorney Dana Kurtz engaged in a repeated pattern of misconduct, starting with inappropriate comments in her opening statement and repeated attempts to introduce inadmissible and prejudicial evidence before the jury, that, taken together, prejudiced the defendant’s case on the political retaliation claim.”

The judge cited repeated incidents in which false claims were made during the trial and were presented as “evidence” but that were never proven by Rojas or his attorney with facts. Judge Holderman said the misconduct of attorney Kurtz “prejudiced the jury.”

During the trial, Kurtz was repeatedly admonished not to prejudice the jury with unsubstantiated remarks, Holderman said, but she ignored his repeated warnings and continued to “taint” the jury’s view. Judge Holderman said attorney Kurtz had on several occasions attempted to and in fact did “taint the jury” with inadmissible evidence improperly introduced during the original trial.

“I was always confident that the facts as presented would vindicate President Dominick and the Town,” said Cicero Town Attorney Michael Del Galdo.

“The plaintiff and his lawyer’s inappropriate and untrue comments clearly prejudiced the jury. We’re pleased the judge saw through those prejudicial efforts to allow President Dominick to receive a fair ruling.”

Del Galdo said that President Dominick does not view employees based on their political affiliations or loyalties. He said Rojas was fired for doing personal work for his own personal financial benefit when he was supposed to be working for the town and the taxpayers.

Del Galdo emphasized that President Dominick will defend the rights of taxpayers who expect town employees to do their jobs, not personal business on Town time.


Monday, December 19, 2011

No property tax increase in Cicero for 6th year

Bookmark and Share

No property tax increase in Cicero for 6th year

Cicero – Town President Larry Dominick announced the Town of Cicero will not raise property taxes for the 6th straight year in a row despite the difficult economy.

President Dominick said that the Town will continue to provide the same services to seniors, families, the youth and the disabled and has expanded programs to offer even more services without asking taxpayers to pay more.

Dominick said that the Town of Cicero is able to hold the line on property taxes by managing spending and insisting on efficiencies from employees and town contractors.

“In the recent past. We have seen State and Federal Governments raise our income taxes and Cook County raise both our sales tax and real estate taxes,” Dominick said.

“Unlike other governments, I am pleased to report that this year’s tax levy marks the 6th straight year that the Town has not raised the real estate taxes for residents. I am proud that we as a board continue to offer expanded programs for our youth and our senior residents each year. We do so by demanding responsible spending, not on the backs of taxpayers.”

Dominick said he is proud to say that “Our community has said ‘no more’ to increased taxes and this year the Tax Levy proves that we can achieve this goal.”

Town Collector Fran Reitz said the freeze on property tax increases during the past six years reflects “very responsible spending” by President Dominick and the board.

“There has not been a loss of spending at all and we have not cut back on programs. We continue to hire police and fire personnel and the services we provide to the public continue and are increasing,” Reitz said. “In contrast, we continue to see cutbacks by the state and the federal government in addition to increases in their taxation.”

The tax levy was approved unanimously by the Town Board at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday Dec. 13.

Dominick said that this year’s levy reflects the same levy from last year as it has five years previously.

“Basically, we are not spending any more now than we have last year. What we are doing is tightening our belt and working with what we have,” Dominick said.

“That means we are not turning to the taxpayers for more funds. We’re not asking for any more taxes from the taxpayers. While we are able to hold the line, many other communities are raising taxes, costs and fees.”


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cicero honors former local boxing champion

Bookmark and Share

Cicero honors former local champion boxer

Cicero – The Town of Cicero honored the memory of Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez who died in injuries suffered during a title bout in November 2009 but whose organs saved several people’s lives at its regular meeting of the Town Board Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Rodriguez, a former resident of the Town of Cicero, will be honored along with 27 other organ donors from around the country at the 2012 Rose Bowl Parade on January 2.

Town President Larry Dominick said that the Town of Cicero has many residents who have made contributions to society but the decision by Rodriguez to donate his organs to save the lives of others was the ultimate achievement.

“When we can help save other lives, that is the most important thing we can do,” Dominick said. “We are proud of the achievements of Francisco ‘Paco’ Rodriguez as a championship boxer and multiple Golden Gloves winner and proud that he will be recognized nationally.”

The Town board adopted a resolution congratulating the family and relatives of Rodriguez who was only 25 when he died. Rodriguez donated his organs through the Gift of Hope program.

Town Trustee Dennis Raleigh spoke on behalf of the board when he said, “Although his was a short life, Francisco donated so much so that others might live through the Gift of Hope and we are very proud of what he did.”

Raiza Mendoza, a spokesperson for the Gift of Life, said, “We thank you President Dominick for recognizing the Gift of Life. Our mission is to save the lives of as many people as possible.”

Rodriguez’s brother Alex attended the board meeting also, and said, “I want to thank you President Dominick and the Town of Cicero board for honoring my brother’s memory. I hope everyone realizes he did a good thing so that others might live. He was always a giver.”

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the Town Board, noted that Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez was a proud resident of the Town of Cicero and a five-time Gold Gloves boxing champion, a member of a long family tradition of champion boxers including his father Evaristo and his brother Evaristo Jr., also a Golden Gloves Champion,

Rodriguez was often known by his championship boxing name “El Nino Azteca” or “The Aztec Kid.” He is survived by his wife Sonia and his young daughter Ginette. He will be represented by his brother, Alex, on the “Donate Life Rose Parade Float” along with the families of 25 others whose relatives also donated organs through the Gift of Life.

Locally, Rodriguez will be honored at a candlelight vigil and press conference Tuesday night December 13 at 6:15 p.m. at the Garfield Park Field House (100 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago.

Reverend Marco A. Mercado, Director of Hispanic Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be joined by Gift of Hope representatives, Paco’s family, friends and fellow boxers to honor the hero at this special event.  Sonia Rodriguez, Paco’s wife, and his 2-year-old daughter Ginette will add finishing touches to the “floragraph” portrait, made entirely of organic floral materials,  before it is sent back to California to be placed on the float for the parade.


President Dominick announces renovation of Metra Station

Bookmark and Share

President Dominick announces renovation of Metra Station

Cicero – Town President Larry Dominick announced the renovation of the Metra Station 4808 W. 26th Street at the meeting of the Town Board this morning.

The project, funded through Metra the RTA and IDOT, will invest between $3 million and $5 million to renovate the Town’s Metra Train Station along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line.

“It has been promised by many past administrations in Cicero but I made it one of my priorities to get the state to provide their share of the funding and we did get that funding finally,” said Town President Larry Dominick.

“This is part of my administration’s vision for the New Cicero, to bring the Town of Cicero into the 21st Century with new programs, parks, industry, businesses and to consolidate government to make it more efficient for the people of Cicero.”

Dominick pointed out that since becoming president, he has directed the construction of a new Town Hall that provides more efficient access to the public, a new state-of-the-art community center that has substantially increased family-orientated, youth and senior programming, the new Community Park at 34th and Laramie Avenue, a new Public Works Building to improve the delivery of services, the new Bobby Hull Community Ice Rink that was just inaugurated two weeks ago, and the attraction of new industry such as the Wirtz Beverage Illinois statewide hub across from Community Park on the east side of the old abandoned Sportsman’s property.

“These are only some of the new projects that I have for the Town of Cicero,” Dominick said.

“We’re also looking at a new skate-board park for young people. We want to give them a safe place to enjoy their hobby and sport and take them off the streets and strip mall parking lots in the traffic where skate-boarding traditionally has occurred with much danger for the kids and the public. We are planning a new in-door water park and I am in negotiations with Wal-Mart to have them develop the east side of the old abandoned Sportsman’s property.”

Dominick said the Metra Station renovations will be extensive.

State Senator Martin Sandoval, who helped shepherd the plan through Metra, said he was shocked that a station serving one of the largest municipalities in Illinois could be abandoned by Metra for so long.

“I remember doing a walk-through several years ago of the Metra station. I was appalled and shocked at the abandonment and decay of that property. It had never been developed or refurbished and it was in the same state since the day it was originally constructed,” Sandoval told the board.

“I thought it was awful. President Dominick and I agreed that it was a crime that the largest municipality in Cook County would have the worst Metra station in Cook County. Go down the line to the other communities and look at their stations and they don’t even contribute half the tax dollars to the county and Metra that come from the Town of Cicero.”

The scope of the project will include the replacement of inbound and outbound platforms to include tactile warning strips, platform lighting, voice of Metra equipment, VIS and station signage, explained Metra spokesman Glenn Peters.

“We have been working for some time on developing the plans for this station. it is largely being funded by the state of Illinois through the efforts of Senator Sandoval,” Peters said.

Plans call for the construction of new enclosed warming house and three sided shelter on outbound platform. There will be a new inbound headhouse and ramp enclosure with heated waiting area. The ramp will be reconstructed to comply with ADA guidelines for the handicapped and disabled.

The plan also calls for new landscaping and the relocation of the existing commuter parking lot to better accommodate commuter access and parking.

Bidding is expected to begin in January 2012 and the award in April 2012. Construction is planned to start in May of 2012 and it should be completed in early 2013, Peters said.

“This project is very much needed here,” said Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias. “There are a lot of good things happening in Cicero and this is adds to the many improvements that President Dominick has brought to our community. I know it is a project that will benefit our residents very much.”

Trustee Dennis Raleigh said this is the third time Metra has announced plans to renovate the station during his 14 years on the board. “At last I think we will finally get this work done. It is so needed.”

Town Assessor Emilio “Emo” Cundari agreed, noting that the Town has brought many new projects to Cicero over the past six years.

“We have seen so many new projects, programs and activities for the community and this is just another example of how this administration is working hard for the people,” Cundari said.

“Thanks for bringing a safer Metra stop to the people of the Town of Cicero. Just maybe commuters from other Western suburbs who pass through here will also realize how great this Town is. We have so many new projects here, the Town Hall, the Bobby Hull Community Ice Rink, the new Community Center, Police Station, Public Works, Parks like Community Park and the new industry like Wirtz Beverage Illinois. This is a great community.”


Monday, December 12, 2011

Santa Visits the Waggin Tails PAWS pets with children

Bookmark and Share

For more information:

Waggin Tails Animal Shelter
Erika Rosas, Director
1634 S. Laramie Ave. Building B

(Photos credit: Gerardo Lopez)

Town of Cicero celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor -- Photographs

Bookmark and Share

The Town of Cicero celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

(Photos credit: Gerardo Lopez.)

Town of Cicero Senior Christmas Party -- Photographs

Bookmark and Share

Photos from the Town of Cicero's Senior Christmas Party Wed. Dec. 7, 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Local teacher develops early childhood booklet To encourage community leadership among local children

Bookmark and Share

Local teacher develops early childhood booklet
To encourage community leadership among local children

Cicero – Town President Larry Dominick said he was flattered that he has been asked to be one of a number of comic characters in a booklet intended to encourage young children in Cicero to pursue civi pride and community leadership.

The booklet is published by author and local teacher Maria Luisa Azurdia and illustrated by Zeus Creative Net which is based in the Town of Cicero.

Azurdia, who has published several children’s learning booklets that are available on Amazon.com, said that the latest booklet is intended to give children a “real experience in learning.”

“We were very excited that President Dominick allowed us to use him as a cartoon character in our newest booklet that is in English and Spanish and that is designed to help encourage young children to participate in local government and civic pride,” Azurdia explained.

“We wanted to do a booklet that promotes a reading literary campaign to encourage families and parents to read to their children. The purpose is to promote literacy. We are excited that we can use Larry Dominick as one of the characters in the book to get local kids and parents involved in not only helping their children to read but to also build in them a desire to be involved in a positive way in their community.”

President Dominick said he was flattered that the author wanted to include him as one of the characters in the booklet.

“I am happy to do anything that will encourage our children to learn to read and to participate more with their families,” Dominick said.

The booklets were distributed at the Town’s annual Christmas reception or needy families that was held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Community Center. More than 2,500 children and their parents attended the Christmas celebration and were given hats, gloves, scarves and toys.

Azurdia said that in addition to handing out the booklets at the Town Christmas party to children and families, they will be distributed at local schools, too.

“We want to get kids not just to participate and lead in school but to also bring what they learn at school to their homes and continue their role playing,” Azurdia explained.

Click here to view the interview with Azurdia on New Cicero TV Comcast Cable TV Channel 6.