Lots of rumors, few facts regarding RF top cop

Maybe the old adage, “people who talk don’t know, and people who know don’t talk,” applies here, but Nick Weiss’ future as River Forest police chief is the topic of much discussion inside the police department-and out.

“Rumors are all over the department,” said one source on Monday. “Everyone’s aware of them.” In fact, over the past week numerous sources have mentioned the rumor that Weiss’ days as chief are numbered. The most frequently used term is “an imminent change in status.” Whether that means termination or retirement remains unclear.

The two retired senior Chicago police officials who authored the recent report on conditions in the River Forest department, Don Zoufal and Brad Woods, have previously been mentioned as possible replacements for Weiss. Adding to the drama is word that another person mentioned as a candidate has retired from the Chicago Police Department. The report by sources outside the police department and the village said that person’s last day is Friday.

Weiss has battled with an increasingly resistant group of supervisors following a June 2007 no-confidence vote against him and his two deputy chiefs. In the interim, the village settled two federal lawsuits filed by senior police officers alleging age discrimination and retaliatory practices. Since then all but one of six supervisors and both deputy chiefs have filed formal harassment complaints with Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez.

Over the summer, Weiss suspended two supervisors for alleged infractions of the department’s General Orders.

One indication that something may be up is that people who have previously spoken on the subject of Weiss’ future aren’t talking now. Village President Frank Paris, who supported Weiss in the wake of the no-confidence vote, said Monday night he’d have no comment on any talk of Weiss’ “imminent” departure.

“Not that there’s anything imminent about it,” he added. “If it does become imminent, I’ll be sure to inform the [rank and file officers] and the press,” said Paris.

New date for doggie ‘I do’

Change your tuxedo, limo, and hotel reservations, the doggie wedding has been delayed.

Downtown Oak Park is pushing back its attempt to break the record for the world’s largest mass dog wedding, currently 178 dog couples, which means someone has actually done this before. The wedding bonanza was scheduled for Oct. 4, but it’s being moved to Nov. 8 at the request of Guinness World Records.

“Of course we agreed because it’s the Guinness Book,” barked Pat Zubak, executive director of Downtown Oak Park. “They are really excited about our event, and they’re putting their press office behind it.”

The event will now lead off Guinness World Records Day. Zubak says it’s the book’s big public relations event to highlight breaking international records and to celebrate the next edition coming out.

Downtown will get a couple of bonuses for moving its date, including a broadcast of the event on Guinness’ website. They may also get an adjudicator to run the wedding for free, which typically costs thousands of dollars, Zubak said. If Oak Park breaks the record, it will also get a listing in the next Guinness Book.

The event will charge $5 for doggie marriage licenses. The proceeds will go to the Animal Care League of Oak Park.

“It’s just another thing to get us out there and show what a fun community we are and how much we love our dogs,” Zubak said.

Salt from Bermuda?

Oak Park just bought some road salt for the upcoming winter from somewhere in America. But officials say they were seriously considering salt from Bermuda and other places far, far away from here.

With some salt companies in the Midwest quoting prices quadruple what Oak Park typically pays, buying salt from hundreds of miles away might make sense.

“It’s more readily available from my understanding,” says John Wielebnicki, director of public works. “Because of the market conditions, cheaper is kind of relative-that material is still going to be over $100 a ton.”

Wielebnicki says Bermuda gets its salt by placing salt water in ponds, letting the water evaporate and taking out the salt crystals that remain.

Officials say they’ve also eyed salt supplies at far away places like Saskatchewan, Brazil and Europe. Manager Tom Barwin kidded about the village sending a crew down to Bermuda.

“John wants to go to Bermuda to check out that salt,” he said, laughing.

Curves staying?

Two local Curves women’s fitness centers closed their doors, Aug. 31. But a spokesman for the company says they’re hoping to reopen them.

“There are several people interested in taking over the ownership of the clubs, and we’re just waiting for them to submit their paperwork,” said Becky Frusher, a spokesperson for Curves at their headquarters in Texas. “Our main concern is for the members, and we’ll get new owners in the clubs as soon as possible to minimize the disruption to them.”

Logan Chung owned the two locations-one on South Boulevard in Oak Park, the other on North Avenue in Elmwood Park. Employees and members say the closure was unexpected, and Frusher says Chung also has not contacted Curves’ corporate office or returned phone calls.

Chung was reached by the Journal recently at a cleaners he owns in Gary, Ind., but he declined to comment.

Carmeline Biscan, a three-year manager at the Elmwood Park Curves, says several employees have yet to receive paychecks for the entire month of August, and a handful of customers also have not received refunds for prepaid memberships.

Renata Mayfield and a group of seven or eight other members are interested in keeping the Elmwood Park location open, which Curves calls its “North” Oak Park location.

Mayfield says they received a starter kit and are waiting on a price to run the location.

“It could be a couple weeks,” Mayfield says. “We were hoping before the end of September that we would have this all straightened out.”

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