Morton Grove Pietron leaves village board; former village clerk takes seat

Eileen Harford gets sworn in as the new Morton Grove Village Clerk

By Igor Studenkov

For the Bugle

The Morton Grove Action Party may have decisively won against a slate of independent candidates – but that doesn’t mean the board didn’t see any changes.

Trustee John Pietron chose not to run for re-election in April 2017. Connie Travis, who served as the village clerk at the time, was slated in his place. Eileen Harford, daughter of former mayor Dan Scanlon, ran to fill the resulting clerk vacancy.

The change isn’t entirely unprecedented. Ed Ramos was elected village clerk in 2013 before running for village trustee in 2015 on the Action Party ticket. And the village clerk that preceded him, Tony Kalogerakos, was elected board trustee in 2013.

The changes were formalized at the end of May 8 meeting, when the Action Party candidates were officially sworn in.

But before the ceremony started, Mayor Dan DiMaria took the opportunity to thank Pietron for his years of service, praising him for asking tough questions while working toward concensus.

“Really, John, you’ve been vital to the past for years for our success, and I want to commend you for that,” he said.

Trustee Bil Grear wished his retiring colleague well.

“ I wan to thank trustee John Pietron,” he said. “I learned a lot from you, it was great.”

Pietron thanked his family and the mayor. He recalled that, a month after he was elected four years ago, he was pulled over by a Morton Grove police officer due to a missing license place, which, he said, was a lesson in humility.

“Moral of the story is titles are just job descriptions, and have a license plate in front of your car,” Pietron said. “Its very important.”

The departing trustee also gave special thanks to village staff and wished the best of luck to his successor and Harford.

“Congratulations to the new appointees, I wish you a lot of success,” Pietron said. “And thank you again. Good night.”

Travis said she was excited to take on her new duties.

“It’s been my pleasure to serve as clerk, but I look forward to the opportunity to listen and serve as a trustee,” she said.

Hartford said that taking on her new position was especially meaningful to her.

“Tonight is a v special evening for me,” she said. “My family history has been based on tradition and value of community service. I’m thankful to be able to continue this tradition.”

She signaled out her father as an especially inspirational example, noting his eight years of service as village trustee and 10 years as the village president. Hartford said that she was happy that she and her husband were raising their family in “this incredibly close, amazingly open community.”

“I pledge to serve this community to the best of my ability,” she said. “I want to make them proud as I work together with this wonderful village board and dynamic staff to continue to move Morton Grove forward.”

 Opponents, proponents sound off on sanctuary village Town Hall

Two weeks after Morton Grove held a special town hall meeting on whether it should adopt the “sanctuary village” ordinance, it was clear that passions were still running high.

As previously reported by the Bugle, the ordinance, proposed by Americans In Solidarity – Chicago, a left-leaning advocacy group, would prohibit Morton Grove Police Department from detaining suspects or honoring federal warrants to detain suspects, based solely on their immigration status. It would also prohibit village employees from asking residents about their immigration status. The ordinance was originally proposed n late January, and the village held a town hall on April 24.

During the public comment period of the May 8 meeting, the proponents and opponents of the ordinance offered very different takes on how the town hall went. The proponents argued that, since most of the people who spoke during the town hall supported the ordinance, there was clear demand for it in the village. The opponents, on the other hand, argued that the opinions voiced during the town hall didn’t necessarily represent the village as a whole, and warned that Morton Grove would be violating the law if the ordinance is passed.

Since the May 8 meeting, the village crafted its own resolution. As previously reported by the Bugle, many aspects of AIS-C proposal were already part of Morton Grove Police Department procedures. The officers don’t ask residents about their immigration status, they do not honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain suspects on allegation of violation of immigration laws unless there is a warrant for another crime against them, and they do not arrest people for violating civil immigration laws.

As Michael Simo, the Morton Grove Chief of Police, explained during the town hall, that means that, for example, his officers would not arrest immigrants who entered the country legally and overstayed their visas, but they would arrest those that sneaked through the border.

The village resolution expresses support for those policies and extends them to other village employees. It adds language prohibiting village employees from taking part in federal “immigration sweeps.”

While the resulting resolution mirrors most aspects of AIS-C ordinance, there are some differences. The village version makes the distinction between civil and criminal immigration offenses, the AIS-C version doesn’t. And while AIS-C version would prohibit officers from cooperating with ICE investigations, the village version doesn’t include that language.

The village board considered the resolution during its May 22 meeting – which happened after this issue’s print deadline.

During the May 8 meeting, AIS-C director Jonathan Lahn said that, looking at the town hall official transcript, almost twice as many speakers supported the ordinance as the speakers that opposed it – which he described as “a great fact.”

Naushira Rahman, who spoke in favor of the ordinance during the town hall, said that one issue that got neglected is that, looking in United States as a whole, there aren’t a lot of places where immigrants feel welcome.

“I apologize to all those you who’d rather not deal with race issues, but there aren’t a lot of places

for me to go,” she said. “I appreciate having this safe place for my children, and I want to keep it safe.”

Carol Jagielski attended the town hall but didn’t speak at the time. During the May 8 meeting, she read an open letter to the village government argueing that adopting the ordinance would force village employees to break the law.

Jagelski argued that, the ordinance should be approved by referendum.

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