Kids Lose Bikes to Blue Island Parks

State's attorney questions suburban policy, "irregularities"

Perhaps sparked by a pair of items that ran in the Southtown Star earlier this month, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has "initiated an investigation" into allegations of financial irregularities in the Blue Island Park District.

The newspaper reported on the mysterious confiscation of children's bicycles by the park district.

The park district instituted a policy of confiscating the bikes of kids who refused to obey a policy of "no bikes allowed" in the parks. The district demanded a $25 payment for their return and if the money was not paid, the bicycles were allegedly melted and turned into scrap.

No records were kept on how many bicycles were disposed of in this manner or what happened to the money generated by selling them for scrap.

"An investigation was opened as the result of citizen complaints received by the state's attorney about the park district's practices," said Sally Daly, spokeswoman for Alvarez.

The SouthtownStar learned that several residents have been interviewed by investigators for the state's attorney's office.

In addition to the missing bicycles, John Spizzirri, a candidate in an upcoming park district board election, has raised a number of other questions about the spending practices of the district.

Spizzirri, owner of the Rail Grill restaurant in Blue Island, has questioned the use of park district credit cards for meals and gasoline purchases by the board members.

He has also pointed out that the son of a former park district president, who resigned in January, was awarded a concession by the park district although he lacked a business license.

The spokeswoman for the state's attorney said she could not comment on the specifics of any pending investigation.

Park board member Fred Bilotto has called for a forensic audit of the board's financial records.

But minutes of board meetings show Bilotto rescinded his own motion for such an audit after it had passed the board.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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