I hear you knocking

Opinion: Editorials

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All of a sudden, the near southwest suburbs are up to their eyeballs in federal agents. On Sept. 24, the FBI raided the Cicero and Springfield offices, as well as the home, of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, whose 11th District includes part of the Landmark's coverage area.

That same day, according to WBEZ, the feds also paid a visit to an asphalt contractor with close ties to Sandoval and other area politicians, including Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, whose village hall and business offices were the subject of federal investigations on Sept. 26.

Also on that day, feds raided McCook Village Hall, where Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski (whose 16th District also includes the Landmark coverage area) is mayor, and did some other investigative digging in nearby Summit.

Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that federal investigators were probing an alleged scheme whereby Sandoval was steering business to a company in exchange for kickbacks.

Exactly which company that is remains unclear, though the raid on Bluff City Materials in Bartlett, owned by the same man who operates the Reliable Materials quarry in Lyons, is certainly eyebrow-raising.

Reliable Materials has been a generous donor to the political committees of Sandoval, Tobolski and, in particular, Getty. Contributions from Reliable Materials to political committees controlled by Getty have been lavish, approaching $100,000 over the past decade.

Federal agents, including one who identified himself as being from the IRS Criminal Investigations Division, spent hours on Sept. 26 inside the offices of Getty Insurance in Lyons, an address those political committees call home.

No one has been charged with any wrongdoing, and it's not known whether Getty himself is the subject of a federal investigation. But it sure is unusual.

It also continues to be disconcerting to think that these same people worked so hard and spent so much money late last year and earlier this year to regain control of the Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 Board of Education, which serves the southeast quarter of Brookfield.

Sandoval and Tobolski both personally appeared at a school board meeting last fall to slam the school board for the administration's error in failing to fully vet a teacher who was hired, even though he was awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Getty and his political allies fed that beast, backed by thousands of dollars from Getty's campaign funds, for all it was worth, convincing enough people that returning the school board to their hands was actually in the public interest.

That Getty-backed school board, to date, has done everything it can to roadblock key administrative hires. There's still no business manager, even though the superintendent made someone an offer, and it now looks like the district will use an interim this school year as a placeholder. For whom, we wonder.

In the meantime, the school board has failed to pass a budget by Sept. 30 as required by law. It's a direct result of the stonewalling on the business manager, but it won't have any political consequences until voters in District 103 realize that's all these guys care about – political power.

And because of that election in April, it's likely voters won't get a chance to effect change until 2023. How does that feel after last week?

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William Swart Ruting  

Posted: October 3rd, 2019 7:31 AM

In 2018 the village of Lyons, per their published treasurer report received over $710,000 in "quarry" fees; but, in the same fiscal year the village paid Reliable Materials Lyons over $770,000. The quarry fill project was never supposed to cost the residents a dime.

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