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Bradley resident, businesses spar over disturbances, privacy

BRADLEY — Bradley resident Shirley Hodge would like to spend summer evenings on her porch relaxing or in her backyard tending to plants.

The 74-year-old has lived in the residence in the 100 block of South Washington Avenue since the early 1970s, she estimated.

But these past few years have become nearly unbearable, Hodge said. The activity at the neighboring bars — directly across the alley from her dwelling — has literally brought her to tears.

She recently spoke about these issues during the public comment portion of the Bradley Village Board meeting. She cried as she described the situation she’s endured to Mayor Mike Watson and the six village trustees.

“They think no one is looking,” she said several days later as she explained how her life has been impacted. “People urinate near my property. They empty their ashtrays.”

She said she has witnessed people engaging in sexual activity as well as drug use.

She noted the issues arise from a pair of neighboring establishments: Donald & Debbie’s Doghouse, 228 W. Broadway St., and D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F.’s, 226 W. Broadway St.

Both locations noted when contacted by the Journal they have heard from this neighbor in the past and they do everything within their business operations to make sure they do not affect neighboring property owners.

“No one is bothering her,” noted Debbie Sims, co-owner of the Doghouse, who also noted the alley is the property of Bradley, not a resident or a business.

Sims said it is never her intention to get neighbors upset.

D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F.’s management noted their customers are between the bar and the street as they have an extensive outdoor area.

“I have no idea where this [issue] is coming from,” the location manager stated. The manager decline to state her name.

Mayor Watson said police are looking into the situation to determine what approach, if any, can be taken to rectify this issue.

“We are going to look at all aspects of this. It has always been a business corridor,” Watson said. He agreed no one would want the issues Hodge has described taking place next to their property.

Watson said when a residential area and a commercial area are immediate neighbors, issues such as this can arise. He is hoping a solution to accommodate these competing interests can be found.

“We are currently in investigation mode,” he said.

Oddly enough, the locations in question can view the Bradley Police Department from the alley in between the properties.

Hodge said the locations are affecting her privacy as well as her safety. She said vehicles park within feet of her property. She has gone so far as to have eight parking blocks positioned end to end to keep vehicles off of her lawn.

Attempting to hold back tears, she said this long-running matter has hurt her.

“I’ve lost joy. Years and years of this and it gets to ya. ... The alley is not their parking lot. I’m a friendly person, typically.”

Sims said customers do use the alley area for parking because there is a lack of public parking.

“It’s an alley. People park in alleys,” she said.

Hodge contends she is not able to enjoy her property.

“I want to be able to come out and do something, sometime. But I’ve lost interest. This is not a life. They [business owners] wouldn’t go home and put up with this. ... Residents should get some respect.”

Hodge noted she is maintaining her property the best she can. She acknowledges it has some issues. She noted a new roof and porch were recently completed.

And her frustration only grows.

“I’ve been at the end of my rope for a long time. I’m not saying I’m the perfect person. This is my house.”

Illinoisans more moderate than assembly on abortion

SPRINGFIELD – A new survey released this week suggests Illinoisans are more moderate on the issue of abortion than the current Democratic-controlled General Assembly, but it is unclear whether that will cost Democrats votes in November.

The poll by the Chicago-based firm Ogden & Fry — which is owned by a Republican candidate for Cook County Board — found 40 percent of those responding describe themselves as “pro-choice with some restrictions,” including limits on late-term abortions, and about 25 percent describe themselves as “pro-life with exceptions” for things such as rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother.

That puts about two-thirds of those surveyed somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with only 21.5 percent describing themselves as 100-percent “pro-choice” and 14 percent identifying as 100-percent “pro-life.”

Perhaps more importantly, 78 percent of those surveyed said they believe parents should be notified before their minor child receives an abortion, including 35 percent who supported a judicial bypass in situations where parental notification is not possible or not in the child’s best interest.

Even among self-identified Democrats, 61.6 percent said they support some level of parental notification requirement.

That’s important because the General Assembly passed a bill last year, which Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law, repealing the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion law. That repeal took effect June 1.

The survey of 956 adults, 95 percent of whom said they were likely or very likely to vote in 2022, comes with all the usual polling caveats.

First, assuming the respondents were selected completely at random, the sample size would give the poll a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.

Second, the owner of Ogden & Fry, and the person who did the polling, is Matt Podgorski, who is also a Republican candidate for the Cook County Board. Podgorski’s firm did not receive a commission to conduct the poll.

Retiring state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, who is supporting Podgorski’s campaign, said in a phone interview that he suggested doing the poll and thought it would be good publicity for the firm.

The polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight gives the firm a grade of “B/C,” based on its track record in the 2014 gubernatorial race, when it accurately predicted Republican Bruce Rauner’s margin of victory within a single percentage point, and the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Illinois, when it overestimated Joe Biden’s margin of victory by 8.3 percentage points.

A final caveat comes from a political science professor that I used to quote regularly, Patrick Miller: “It’s one poll.” It usually takes multiple polls over an extended period of time before a clear picture begins to emerge.

That being said, the Ogden & Fry poll had some other interesting findings. For example, it showed President Biden with a 48.6 percent approval rating in Illinois — well above his national averages but not necessarily surprising in a blue state such as Illinois.

And Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker came in with a 49.4 percent approval rating, including 90 percent among self-identified Democrats; 4.6 percent among Republicans and 35.5 percent among independents.

It also found about two-thirds of those surveyed — 65.5 percent — said a candidate’s position on abortion was either “extremely” or “very” important in their voting decision. That number shoots up to about 78 percent among Democrats, many of whom might be motivated by the leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court decision suggesting the court could be poised to overturn its landmark 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

Meanwhile, 52 percent overall, including 22.8 percent of Democrats, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports unrestricted abortion while only 27.5 percent overall, and nearly half of Democrats surveyed, said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports unrestricted abortion access.

That last statistic, however, requires some context, because in every case, the decision is also affected by who the alternative is. Voters can, and sometimes do, vote for someone who is further to the right or left of them on a particular issue if the alternative is someone they consider utterly unacceptable.

Summit to address worker shortage

SPRINGFIELD – Similar to many other sectors of the economy, manufacturing is facing worker shortages.

The Illinois Manufacturers Association and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center are holding a summit this week in an effort to come up with solutions to the shortage.

The summit comes after a new report highlighted several common themes causing the shortage, including a lack of interest in manufacturing careers across numerous demographics.

There were also difficulties identifying and recruiting employees, problems retaining workers amid an upcoming wave of retirements, and a skills gap resulting in a need to focus on basic math, reading and literacy.

Manufacturing officials toured the state for six weeks last fall that brought together educators, business advocacy groups, employers and local manufacturers to discuss the issue. The group made numerous stops, including in Rockford, Effingham and Metro East.

“Solving the labor challenge for Illinois manufacturers is going to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to make sure we meet the changing demands and skills needed to keep this industry thriving,” said David Boulay, IMEC president. “That includes businesses, schools and even parents, helping understanding and seeing the opportunity for careers in their communities for manufacturing that are high-skilled, high-wage jobs.”

Solutions offered by the IMA include state-funded financial incentives to support the stability of the state’s manufacturing workforce and changes to the state’s public education system to better meet the needs of an ever-changing workforce.

The IMA also said the state must find ways to provide student loan forgiveness for students who stay in their communities after high school to work in the manufacturing sector.

Statewide, manufacturing generates more than $304 billion in economic output, contributing 12 percent to the state’s gross domestic product.