University of Chicago Medicine Breast Cancer June 2022
Drag racers at Ford City.

A screenshot from a cellphone video of hot rodders in the Ford City parking lot.

‘It’s not enough’

Impound cars of drag racers, civic leaders say

By Tim Hadac

Thomas S. Baliga and Jason Huff are typically among the first Southwest Side civic

leaders to praise the dedication of Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police.

But they also are among the first to say the Lightfoot Administration’s response to the drag racing problem along Pulaski and Cicero (and adjacent parking lots) is lacking.

“It’s not enough,” Baliga said after another recent Friday and Saturday night of drag racing and loud showboating in retail establishment parking lots in Archer Heights.

“Police seem to be doing the best they can with what resources they have, but they’re stretched thin,” said Baliga, who serves as president of the Archer Heights Civic Association. He said that a CPD officer talking with him about the situation admitted, “…they were basically overwhelmed because they don’t have the capacity to deal with this volume of cars.”

“This volume” can mean anything from several dozen at a time to more than a hundred, depending on the night and weather conditions and not counting spectators who turn out to watch the self-described gear heads. But many Southwest Siders appear to agree the teenage boys and young men who rev and race their car engines from the Stevenson Expressway all the way south to Ford City are a menace.

The roaring engines, squealing tires and fireworks-like sounds made by illegally modified exhaust systems have been blamed for disrupting the sleep of everyone—from preemies just brought home from the hospital to the elderly to younger adults who need to get up for work the following morning. They also have been blamed for triggering anxiety among military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In addition to the noise, some have complained about the dangers drags racers pose to themselves, other motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and property when they speed up and down streets.

The AHCA and the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch–which Huff leads–have complained separately about the racers to police, aldermen and anyone else they think might listen.

Late last month, the AHCA and SNW sent a joint letter of concern to 8th District Police Commander Fred Melean and five City Council members: Alds. Marty Quinn (13th), Edward M. Burke (14th), Derrick Curtis (18th), Michael Rodriguez (22nd) and Silvana Tabares (23rd).

After thanking Melean for his efforts, Huff and Baliga requested that CPD work with the Illinois State Police “to bring in additional resources to aggressively crack down on these reckless drivers. For both Cicero Avenue and Pulaski Road, we beg that a joint City/State departmental task force be created to initiate the following steps:

• Unannounced weekend roadside safety checks.
• Special speed missions.
• Aggressive ticketing.
• Impoundment of vehicles.
• Arrests as appropriate.

“We also understand that the 8th District currently does not have radar capability,” Baliga and Huff continued. “Both [the AHCA and SNW] are requesting that our aldermanic leaders address this issue by either bringing back radar cars or at least securing new radar guns that can be transferred between beat cars as needed.

“As far as the [private] properties where these car groups are gathering, we request that the problem be addressed with City Council legislation. Specifically, we ask that a new ordinance be enacted requiring all retail/commercial properties the size of Ford City, Kmart- 71st Street, the Pulaski Promenade, Pete’s Fresh Market and Target, be required to install gates or some other form of closures to prevent large groups from congregating on private property after standard business hours.”

Most important, they added, “due to the escalating nature of the drag racing issue, the ordinance must apply to all properties retroactively. And there is precedent for such action in that the parking lots of select Chicago parks, sports team venues and other big organizations, already have parking lots with gates and/or other closures in place.

“Realizing that not all employees of these retail establishments share the same work hours, the ordinance should include a provision for at least two card-activated gates for non-standard hourly employees, maintenance and security individuals. Smaller lots would not be subject to this ordinance.”

Huff and Baliga wrote that blocking racers from using large parking lots “would free up our beat officers to address more pressing issues like gangs, illegal guns, robberies and other serious crime issues that are currently plaguing not only the district, but also the entire city.”

Commander’s response speedy

A response to Baliga and Huff was swift—at least from Melean. Just sixteen minutes after he received his letter via email, the commander—after tipping his cap to CPD Captain Raymond Doherty for doing “a tremendous job” in addressing the concern every weekend—said his officers have been “making arrests, as well as issuing both moving and parking violations.

“This weekend we were given a couple of tow trucks to help us deter cars from congregating,” Melean continued. “We also submitted a request for the traffic section to conduct missions in our District.

“We have talked to business owners. Securing some lots would be nice. We have received permission from Ford City to write parking tickets on their private lots and to charge violators with trespassing. Unfortunately, social media allows for instant communication to the hundreds of cars that show up in 008.

“We have to approach this in a safe manner for both our officers and the residents in the community. We are using all of the resources we have available and will continue to attack this problem.”

Motorists agree on one thing

Outside Advance Auto Parts, 4625 S. Pulaski, customers seemed to say that some of the measures proposed by Huff and Baliga sound good, but might not prove effective.

“Police can write tickets until their fingers freeze up,” said Raul Mendez. “The average 21-year-old guy takes a ticket, crumples it up and throws it on the floor with the McDonald’s wrappers.”

His friend, Mario Puentes, agreed and added, “Go ahead and arrest them, too. What’s the charge? Reckless conduct? That’s a misdemeanor. Not a big deal, and you know [Cook County State’s Attorney] Kim Foxx is going to drop charges just as soon as she can.”

Shenee Davidson said she does not understand what “all the complaining is about. [Drag racing] is not some new thing. It goes back years and years, and will be around years from now.”

One thing all three agreed on is that impounding vehicles could stop the problem or at least push it out of the city.

“You take a man’s car, now you have his attention,” Davidson said. “It’s probably the most important thing he owns. Even if you only take it away for a few days, you ever try to get your car out of 103rd and Doty (the location of the City of Chicago’s South Side impoundment lot)? It’s time, it’s a pain in the ass and it’s expensive. It’s a hundred-and-a-half, and that’s just to walk in the door. Word gets around that police are impounding cars, you watch how these [drag racers] go away. All you’ll see is their tail lights.”

Local News

CRRNH_TabaresLopez_062922

Mayoral race comes to Archer

Neighbors cheer as Lopez slams Lightfoot on crime By Tim Hadac Southwest Side civic and business leaders last Saturday got an early glimpse of the 2023 mayoral race, as 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez made a campaign stop on Archer Avenue. Lopez was the guest of honor at a “meet and greet” held at the…

election 2022

Two incumbents square off in new 6th District

Newman, Casten battle for Dem nod By Steve Metsch It doesn’t happen often, but voters in the new 6th Congressional District have an unusual choice in the June 28 Democratic primary. Because of redistricting, two sitting members of Congress–Marie Newman and Sean Casten– are going toe-to-toe for the nomination in the June 28 primary. The…

pathlights Ice Cream Fundraising Flyer 6.17.22

Fundraiser is Sunday for Pathlights

Tinley Park nonprofit One Less to Help One More is hosting a special community fundraiser for Pathlights in honor of June’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Month from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, at Oberweis at 7202 W. 159th Street in Orland Park. For shoppers, 20% of your purchases will be donated…

USPS logo new

Mail truck loses load on Harlem Avenue

By Bob Bong A U.S. Postal Service truck leaving a local post office spilled its load at Harlem Avenue and 103rd Street Tuesday morning. Palos Hills Police Deputy Chief Tony Carroccio said the truck was driving with its rear door open at 3 a.m. when it dropped packages all over Harlem Avenue near 103rd Street.…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth considering limits on tobacco stores

By Joe Boyle The Worth Village Board is considering establishing an ordinance that would put limits on where tobacco stores can operate in the village. Worth is not a home rule municipality and therefore cannot vote to put a limit on the amount of tobacco stores in the village. Greg Jones, the village attorney, is…

Election-Vote-Logo-1024x631

Incumbent Zalewski faces challenger for Dem nod in 21st District

By Steve Metsch Taking a break from the campaign trail – talking on a cell phone as he walked door to door – state Rep. Michael Zalewski (21st) said the choice facing Democratic voters on June 28 is simple. “I’ve said consistently that it’s the choice for voters between a record and a promise,” Zalewski…

Totally Blown had its tobacco license suspended for 30 days and its lawyers are seeking a lighter punishment. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park smoke and vape shop looking for a lesser punishment

By Jeff Vorva Truly Blown Smoke and Vape appealed to the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees to lighten up a 30-day suspension for selling products to underage customers. The business was also fined and had its tobacco license suspended for 30 days during a June 1 hearing. The appeal was held on Monday,…

Palos Pines residents say cars speeding in their neighborhood are dangerous. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Heights neighborhood pining to eliminate speeding

By Jeff Vorva Residents in the Palos Pines subdivision are worried for their safety and their children’s safety because cars are constantly racing through the Palos Heights neighborhood. Two people spoke up at Tuesday’s city council meeting and a third had an e-mail read to the council members. Also, other neighbors have been contacting police…

election 2022

Update: Morrison, Gorman duking it out for county commissioner spot

By Jeff Vorva In what is one of the nastiest races around, Sean Morrison and Liz Gorman are duking it out for a commissioners’ spot on the Cook County Board. Gorman had the job in the 17th District from 2002-2015 but gave it up to work in the private sector. Morrison took over and had…

election 2022

Six candidates vie for GOP nod in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva Six for 6. It’s a busy Republican field in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District and six candidates are duking it out on June 28 for the right to take on the Democratic survivor between sitting U.S. Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman, and Charles M. Hughes. The new 6th District includes a…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
CRRNH_TabaresLopez_062922

Mayoral race comes to Archer

Neighbors cheer as Lopez slams Lightfoot on crime By Tim Hadac Southwest Side civic and business leaders last Saturday got an early glimpse of the 2023 mayoral race, as 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez made a campaign stop on Archer Avenue. Lopez was the guest of honor at a “meet and greet” held at the…

election 2022

Two incumbents square off in new 6th District

Newman, Casten battle for Dem nod By Steve Metsch It doesn’t happen often, but voters in the new 6th Congressional District have an unusual choice in the June 28 Democratic primary. Because of redistricting, two sitting members of Congress–Marie Newman and Sean Casten– are going toe-to-toe for the nomination in the June 28 primary. The…

pathlights Ice Cream Fundraising Flyer 6.17.22

Fundraiser is Sunday for Pathlights

Tinley Park nonprofit One Less to Help One More is hosting a special community fundraiser for Pathlights in honor of June’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Month from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, at Oberweis at 7202 W. 159th Street in Orland Park. For shoppers, 20% of your purchases will be donated…

USPS logo new

Mail truck loses load on Harlem Avenue

By Bob Bong A U.S. Postal Service truck leaving a local post office spilled its load at Harlem Avenue and 103rd Street Tuesday morning. Palos Hills Police Deputy Chief Tony Carroccio said the truck was driving with its rear door open at 3 a.m. when it dropped packages all over Harlem Avenue near 103rd Street.…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth considering limits on tobacco stores

By Joe Boyle The Worth Village Board is considering establishing an ordinance that would put limits on where tobacco stores can operate in the village. Worth is not a home rule municipality and therefore cannot vote to put a limit on the amount of tobacco stores in the village. Greg Jones, the village attorney, is…

Election-Vote-Logo-1024x631

Incumbent Zalewski faces challenger for Dem nod in 21st District

By Steve Metsch Taking a break from the campaign trail – talking on a cell phone as he walked door to door – state Rep. Michael Zalewski (21st) said the choice facing Democratic voters on June 28 is simple. “I’ve said consistently that it’s the choice for voters between a record and a promise,” Zalewski…

Totally Blown had its tobacco license suspended for 30 days and its lawyers are seeking a lighter punishment. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park smoke and vape shop looking for a lesser punishment

By Jeff Vorva Truly Blown Smoke and Vape appealed to the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees to lighten up a 30-day suspension for selling products to underage customers. The business was also fined and had its tobacco license suspended for 30 days during a June 1 hearing. The appeal was held on Monday,…

Palos Pines residents say cars speeding in their neighborhood are dangerous. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Heights neighborhood pining to eliminate speeding

By Jeff Vorva Residents in the Palos Pines subdivision are worried for their safety and their children’s safety because cars are constantly racing through the Palos Heights neighborhood. Two people spoke up at Tuesday’s city council meeting and a third had an e-mail read to the council members. Also, other neighbors have been contacting police…

election 2022

Update: Morrison, Gorman duking it out for county commissioner spot

By Jeff Vorva In what is one of the nastiest races around, Sean Morrison and Liz Gorman are duking it out for a commissioners’ spot on the Cook County Board. Gorman had the job in the 17th District from 2002-2015 but gave it up to work in the private sector. Morrison took over and had…

election 2022

Six candidates vie for GOP nod in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva Six for 6. It’s a busy Republican field in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District and six candidates are duking it out on June 28 for the right to take on the Democratic survivor between sitting U.S. Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman, and Charles M. Hughes. The new 6th District includes a…

DVN McDonalds 7701 Harlem House Ad
CRR NH In Realty House Ad