'Car kebab' gets star billing

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Walking around downtown Chicago or waiting at a bus or train stop, you might have spied the area's most famous kebab without the shish?#34;i.e. the Berywn "car kebab" (aka "The Spindle" or "cars on a spike"), which is featured on ad posters around Chicago. Where did they come from? We asked Patrick Keenan of the Cermak Plaza Association, which works on behalf of the City of Berywn.

"Basically, the tourism bureau is trying to ... point out quirky, fun things in the state," Keenan said. The idea to feature the car kebab came from a conversation Keenan had with Rich Carollo, the director of the Oak Park Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes Oak Park and surrounding towns. "He said the Illinois Tourism Board is trying to find some different things to feature that are out of the ordinary," Keenan explained. "He then started asking, 'Could we get some photos taken of the spindle?' At that point, I was like, 'Sure, great.'

"A lot of people say they've seen it around. It's eye-catching," Keenan added.

According to the Illinois Bureau of Tourism website (www.enjoyillinois.com), other posters feature Jane, a T-Rex housed at a Rockford museum, and the birthplace of Robert Wadlow, "the tallest man ever on record," in Alton. Posters featuring a butter cow ("to showcase the upcoming Illinois State Fair in Springfield") and a wine theme (for Illinois Wine Month, in September) are in the offing.

Keep a lookout for the posters on buildings, the El and Metra trains, at bus stops and in the mail; the Tourism Bureau says postcards featuring the posters will be available at Chicago restaurants, bars, and clubs.



File assessment appeals Tuesday

Cook County Assessor James Houlihan and Oak Park Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar will host a meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at village hall to discuss both the larger policy issues surrounding the reassessment of Oak Park properties, as well as how to file an assessment appeal.

The meeting comes just two days before the Aug. 25 deadline for filing appeals with the county.

Staff from both the township and the county assessors' offices will be available to answer questions from individual property owners, according to a township press statement.

The meeting will also be broadcast on VOP-6.


Yes, Mr. President, we print all of them

If there was a village president one could call wonk (and we mean that in the nicest possible way), it would be David Pope, who seems to know a myriad of pertinent facts related to the operations of village government.

So we were surprised when he was surprised last week that the village runs a legal notice in local newspapers listing every village employee's salary.

"We print all of them?" he asked, aghast, after noting he would have thought the village would protect the privacy of its various employees.

Yes, David, we list all of them, every year.




Candidate challenges 'Illinois Axis of Evil'

Jim Rowe, a 27-year-old Franklin Park native, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for 39th District Senator last Thursday.

Rowe, who spent two years as a prosecutor with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, wants to challenge Oak Parker and current State Sen. Don Harmon for his seat next year.

It should be quite a campaign, if Rowe's Aug. 8 interview with the conservative Illinois Leader website ("Illinois' Premier Public Affairs News Source") is any indicator.

Rowe, who serves on the Franklin Park School District 84 Board of Education, is already attempting to paint Harmon as a "well-heeled, well-connected" incumbent who works against the best interests of his constituents. Taking a phrase from George W. Bush, Rowe said, "education is simply not a priority for Don Harmon, Gov. Blagojevich, Mike Madigan and the rest of what I would call the Illinois Axis of Evil."

Rowe also contends that "state senators like Don Harmon ... worry more about whether Billy should be allowed to marry Tommy than focusing on our priorities such as schools, jobs and health care."

He alleges that Harmon has $206,000 in his campaign fund, and thus will be tough to beat.

Rowe told Illinois Leader he quit the State's Attorney's Office because "I wanted to make sure I had time available to focus on this campaign." Now in private practice, he's also the attorney for former Illinois state ward Robert Pitawanakwat, who recently filed a $10 million lawsuit against DCFS for sexual abuse allegedly suffered at the hands of a man DCFS placed him with in the 1980s. No comment though about the GOP hot-button issue of large jury awards enriching trial lawyers.

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