In the past year, elected officials in both Riverside and North Riverside voted to create registries for rental properties in each village. The goal of the registries is multifaceted, and they seek to protect a segment of the population whose lives, as we have seen recently, are in danger of being turned upside down in a second, through no fault of their own.

In addition to getting information about exactly who is living in rental properties, so they can be provided with information about how to contact the village with concerns and complaints, one goal is to get village inspectors inside buildings regularly to address code violations that otherwise go unseen because private property owners are loath to have government officials snooping around all the time.

Each village is handling that end of the process a little differently, but it’s clear that better inspection regimens are needed after a number of awful incidents in recent years concerning properties owned and managed by the same cast of characters.

In Riverside, the village moved to act after a man fell to his death when a faulty staircase railing gave way and tenants in winter 2021 went without heat for a week at the same building.

Two weeks ago, scores of people were made homeless in an instant when a fire rendered their North Riverside apartment building uninhabitable. The Landmark and the village had been hearing anecdotal complaints about the building for some time, but inspection records provided to the newspaper by the village made clear inspectors hadn’t been inside the building much, if at all, recently.

Following the fire, the village’s building inspector has recommended structural, electrical and mechanical engineering reports be handed over before officials allow the building once again to be occupied.

That’s a minimum, we’d argue. The villages also need to be robust in their efforts to regularly inspect these buildings via their new registries. Literally, lives are at stake.

Judging the judges

Selecting judges to vote for is, for most of us, an invitation to feel inadequate as active citizens of Cook County. It’s very hard to know who these people are, what are their views on the role of judges within a system many of us have doubts about. Maybe we see passing references to endorsements by various local bar associations. 

And then most of us vote blindly or we skip voting for judges entirely. Doesn’t feel good.

So, we’re proud this week to be partnering again with Injustice Watch, an outstanding nonprofit newsroom, and including its 2022 judicial election guide in all of our print editions across the Growing Community Media chain. That’s Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review, Riverside-Brookfield Landmark and the Village Free Press, which covers Proviso Township.

It’s a convenient, one-stop resource to help you decide which box to check when it comes to candidates for judge. Have look and let us know what you think.