Tag Archives: Maywood

Dangerous Political Terrain in Maywood?

Check out the following “musing” by Maywood Village Clerk Gary Woll, a veteran political figure in the near western suburb.

We knew Maywood was hairy in various ways, but politics is literally a blood sport in town, it seems.

Below is an edited excerpt from Woll’s most recent village newsletter, which is called “Gary’s Musings” and is sent out to hundreds of residents and others via email.

Stranger than fiction:

My endorsements come later but let me start my “memoirs.” I will begin with the negative. The following are some of my worst personal memories of being a local elected official and/or candidate. Violence seemed, at times, to follow me. When I was running for re-election one year. The daughter of my opponent was arrested, with two friends, having been caught spraying three of our large yard signs with some horrible filthy words. Shortly after being bailed out, someone threw a brick through the back window of the car in our driveway with a “re-elect Woll” sign on it, but not the other car. Why did I stop anti-crime patrol and making lists of street lights out? The last time I went out a couple of years ago, I slowed down, stupidly, to urge some middle school kids to stop their fighting. A kid jumped in the car and hit me in the face with a baseball bat!! Fortunately it struck exactly between the jaw line and the cheek bone! Once, in a closed session of a board meeting, a trustee got so mad at me, that he started choking me up against the wall but Trustee Casteel came to my rescue (my knight in shining armor). Another time I was conducting a hearing of the Law Enforcement Committee regarding our local gun laws and a neighbor came in with his tape recorder (that’s fine) but he stood up and shouted out physical threats against me if we banned gun shops in Maywood. The police had to escort him out when he started to accost me on my way out. Many years ago I saw someone breaking into [a home] when I was driving around (middle of the day!) and when I got out to investigate, remember this is before cell phones, he ran away with me huffing and puffing after him. In a back yard on the 600 block he turned and pulled out a long knife. I kid you not that I backed up and let him run out to 4th. As a note, I got in my car and went over to 5th where I saw him enter [an apartment building] which is no longer there. I got the police and they arrested him.

For the most part, I have not been the “victim” of hate campaign literature. But, during the same election where my signs and car were vandalized, on the Friday before the Tuesday election, an unsigned campaign piece arrived in the mail delineating a case, where I had been falsely accused, then found innocent of hitting a woman. Of course the literature did not mention the “not guilty” verdict. Another time similar literature was distributed to the audience at one of our board meetings. Am I a third rail?

Once when the elected officials first started insisting that our employees do random drug tests a rumor circulated that I was a “coke” user!! Interesting since what really happened was that my doctor had prescribed, for a bad cold, the use of a cough syrup which contained a tiny amount of codeine. Let me close this with funny one. A 5th avenue neighbor was threatening to call a TV station if we, the village, did not get a cat down out of a very high tree at 5th and Walton. The high ranger was sent over there but the public work’s employee was afraid of cats so I went up in the bucket with him, got scratched but got the cat down to safety. All of the above are true stories but stay tuned to the many, many more positive experiences I have had.

We look forward to the next entry – if Woll makes it that far in this rough-and-tumble business.

This blog post was compiled by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth, who can be reached at rherguth@bettergov.org or (312) 821-9030.


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Arrest of Ex-Maywood Cop a Symptom of Larger Problems in Town

MaywoodIn another sign that Maywood’s police department is in need of a dramatic overhaul, a now-former officer has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman he met on duty.

The disclosure follows a series of Better Government Association reports on the western suburb’s troubled municipal government – including the police force, which has a long, sordid history of misconduct, with officers accused over the years of beating and shaking down members of the public, and maintaining ties to gang members, among other problems, including bungling the investigation of murdered Maywood cop Tom Wood.

The man accused in the sexual assault, Deon Sams, resigned from the force in April as police in another suburb opened a criminal investigation into the incident in question. He was arrested and charged in recent days. (For details, click here or here.)

Beyond the alleged crime itself, the case cries out for answers about how Maywood officers are supervised.

In November, the BGA conveyed a number of reform recommendations to the village leadership, with a large focus on the police department.

Village officials have expressed a willingness to talk about them, which we appreciate. But we hope there is real follow-through, not just pre-election window dressing. (The incumbent mayor, Henderson Yarbrough, husband of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, is up for re-election next year.)

For the record, here’s one of our recommendations that may be relatable to the Sams case:

Maywood officials should hire an independent law enforcement/management consultant to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the police force, analyzing, among other things, crime reporting, staffing levels, promotions, resource allocation and training, with a special emphasis on the level and quality of supervision . . .

There are some good folks on the police department, but there also have been some very bad apples in recent years.

The residents of Maywood – a mostly black working-class community of about 24,000 – deserve better.

So do the good cops on the street.

For what it’s worth, Sams at one time had been a field training officer, helping train new or otherwise less-experienced cops.

Maywood is a tangled world. We can only hope that someday that’ll change.

This analysis was written by Robert Herguth of the Better Government Association. He can be reached at rherguth@bettergov.org or (312) 821-9030.

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Filed under Around the Web, Word on the Street