CityCouncil, Ethical Gov., Latest News, Lead removal

Mayor claims she got millions for neighborhood renewal: Where is it?

Mayor Epstein threatened to fire Steve Lanter, CDA construction manager and grant writer, if he refused again to ignore her illegal plan. (The threat was in writing, I’ve been told).

Personal Stories series |
by Joanie Liesenfelt | 3-21-2013 | Updated 6-1-2013

According to Mayor Epstein (see her postcard), as a result of her great leadership, “HUD grants totaled more than $20 (?) million (Dollar amount was rained on in the mailbox) for neighborhood renewal and rehabilitation since 2009.”

Much of which the Mayor had absolutely nothing to do with.

Steve Lanter, CDA Construction Manager, was writing and successfully receiving grants for the CDA prior to Mrs. Epstein becoming mayor. He was proud to be part of the CDA group, helping people in the community while improving much needed housing upgrades.

As I understand from speaking with people who knew Mr. Lanter, that all stopped around 2009, when Mrs. Epstein became Mayor and changed the course of the city by demolishing viable houses lived in by poorer members of our community.

Around this same time, the Mayor told the CDA to remove someone qualified from the lead-removal waiting list. She said no one employed by the city could benefit from grants received.

Mr. Lanter told Mrs. Epstein she could not do that, she had no authority to prevent qualified applicants from receiving Federal Government grants. The grants were for whoever qualified. As I understand it, he refused to remove anyone from the waiting list.

So sometime over the next year, Mrs. Epstein resurrected an ordinance that I’ve been told was already on the books but not recently applied. The flavor of the ordinance is that no one employed by the city can benefit from grants received by the city. I guess she thought that made everything legal and OK.

I’ve been told by several people that once again Mr. Lanter told Mrs. Epstein he would not remove any qualified person from the list of Federal Government grants.

Maybe this next part is what Mrs. Epstein is counting as her leadership role in HUD grants.

Two people told me separately that Mrs Epstein asked Mr. Lanter if he liked his job. She then said something like, if you like your job, don’t ever mention this to me again. Whatever words she used, it was clearly a threat to fire Mr. Lanter, a good man with a family.

And so, for his family, Mr. Lanter never mentioned it again.

You can be sure this is true regardless of how lacking I am in telling this horror story, because:

  1. Around 2010-2011, at least one person with children was removed from the Federal Grant list for lead-removal after waiting for some time.
  2. Mrs. Epstein did use an ordinance that is at least unethical, permitting her to deny any Federal, State or other sources of funding to anyone receiving pay from the city and for ANY REASON she chooses.
  3. More importantly, it appears that Mrs. Epstein cares less about preventing our children from being permanently damaged from lead paint than she cares about acting out on her personal agenda.
  4. Mr. Lanter continued to be employed making it possible to have HUD/CDA grants.
  5. Some specially chosen city employees have received HUD/CDA grants, I’ve heard..

Steve Lanter died last fall, too young. He is sorely missed by many.

And was sorely maimed by one for defending Kankakee children and families.

In the United States, a democracy, we get the government we deserve.

Steve Lanter didn’t deserve this. Do you? Do your children?

Steve is gone now. There is almost no one left here to defend you and your family – except you.

Time to stand up while you still can.

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Small Town
When you do not stand up
when government and power
retaliate to shut you up,
when you cower under cover,
never speaking up,
you become the attacker,
you give government power
to attack another and another.
You are attacked because
the person before you cowered.
The next is attacked because of you.
So on your feet!
Do not whisper,
do not hide pretending
you do not see,
speak out, loud, here, now,
like you live in America,
before it’s gone.
Joanie Liesenfelt
October 3, 2013
Who will try?
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