Village Board Considers Smoking Ordinance

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Photo: Mary R. Vogt at MorgueFile.com

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The village board began its deliberations on a proposed non-smoking ordinance in Park Forest.  Cook County's Clean Indoor Air Ordinance will become effective throughout the county on March 15, 2007. This county-wide ordinance basically bans smoking in all public places and places of employment. This would include such places as restaurants, bars, offices, and other places where people gather.  The Cook County ordinance specifically excludes smoking rooms in a hotel or motel, private clubs (as defined by the ordinance), and private homes, unless the home is used for a licensed day care, adult day care, health care facility, or a home based business that is open to the public. Cook County’s ordinance will apply to all parts of the County unless a municipality within the county enacts legislation which supersedes it.  In other words, the Village of Park Forest can choose to adopt an ordinance which is more or less restrictive than the Cook County ordinance.

Park Forest's Economic Development Advisory Group (EDAG) has been deliberating on a recommendation regarding a non-smoking ordinance for several months, beginning in October 2006, and again in November and December.  Owners of Bixby's and Tattler's were invited to provide input.  At the December meeting, EDAG heard from a representative of the American Cancer Society regarding this issue.

EDAG's recommendations are similar to those of Cook County Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, with the following exceptions:

  • A person who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment and who fails to comply with the provisions of the ordinance should be fined in the following manner:
    • $100 for the first violation
    • $100 for the second violation within one year of the first
    • $500 for the third and subsequent violations within one yearo If a fifth violation occurs within one year, in addition to the fine, the business should be closed for a 20 day period
  • Bixby’s and Tattler’s should be given a six (6) month period from the date of adoption of the ordinance to come into compliance
  • Smoking should be permitted in private residences, including those in which a home based business is operated and open to the public.
  • Smoking should be prohibited in those private residences used as a licensed child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

Sam Montella, Chairman of the Economic Development and Advisory Group, noted in a memo to the board noted that "the provision regarding smoking in a private residence was a difficult issue for EDAG and one on which there was not a unanimous decision."  Some members favored a total ban on smoking in private residences in which a home-based business is open to the public.  Such a move would be consistent with the Cook County ordinance.  Others did not want to regulate smoking in private homes at all, regardless of how it was used as a home-based business.

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The Police Report

Photo from Morguefile.com Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Editor’s Note: This is the first article featuring news from police reports.  Besides covering the many … Read more

Village Beginning Strategic Planning Study

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Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Village board members began a discussion at the Tuesday, January 2 board meeting, on a proposed contract for a Strategic Planning Study.  Director of Planning and Economic Development Hildy Kingma reported to the board in a memo dated December 20, "The Plan Commission has been working for a couple of years to develop a scope of work and identify a planning consultant to conduct a planning study for the community. The initial effort,which included a request for proposals issued in November 2004, resulted in proposals that exceeded the funds budgeted for the project. Therefore, in early 2005 the Plan Commission began the process of revising the scope of work for the study and applied for a grant from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity. A $40,000 grant was awarded from ILDCEO (Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity) to supplement the Village funds already allocated to the project."

 

Kingma indicated that the intent of the study was to ensure "that the Village is taking the best economic advantage of the land resources that we have, and is positioned to participate inthe growth that is occurring throughout the Chicago Southland."  The final scope of the work includes the following key study areas:

  • Downtown Gateway – including the 3.5 acres currently for sale and property along Western Avenue that is currently part of the Thorncreek Apartments
  • Western Avenue Annexation Area – to develop a strategy for annexation of the area tothe south of the Village’s current limits
  • Park Forest Business Park
  • The Eastgate Neighborhood
  • Sauk Trail – west gateway into the Village of Park Forest
  • Sauk Trail – east gateway into the Village of Park Forest
  • Sauk Trail – in the vicinity of Rich East High School
  • Norwood Square Shopping Center
  • Residential Infill and Redevelopment

She also noted that there would be several means by which public input would be sought throughout the planing process.  "The consultant will work closely with a Steering Committee to review documents and provide detailed feedback on conceptual plans and implementation strategies.The Steering Committee is proposed to be made up of the Plan Commission, key staff members,and other community representatives. In addition, the consultant and Steering Committee will conduct two Community Workshops designed to obtain public input on the preparation of preliminary development scenarios and on the more refined development scenarios and implementation plans. Finally, the Plan Commission will conduct a formal public hearing on the complete draft Strategic Plan prior to making a recommendation and forwarding the Plan to the Board of Trustees."

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Congressional Leaders Call on President to Reject Flawed Iraq Troop Surge

Washington, DC, January 5–(ENEWSPF)– Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi today sent the following letter to President Bush urging him to reject his reported plan to escalate the war in Iraq by increasing troop levels and delaying the ability of the Iraqi government take control of their own future. The leaders cited the burden on the nation's already-overtaxed military, the likely failure of a surge strategy to quell the violence, and the dangers of placing American military into the middle of a civil war. The two leaders called on the President to instead heed the will of the American people, listen to the advice of America's military, and recognize the need for a significant change in strategy that begins with a political solution and a phased withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

Quotes from the letter: 

"We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution."

"Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain."

"Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror." 

The text of the letter follows below.

January 5, 2007

President George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, DC 20500 

Dear Mr. President:

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark. 

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.

Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase. 

Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.

In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq: 

“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”

Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq. 

Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success. 

We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.

Sincerely, 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

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