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Hopkins Park gets dumped on - literally

Thursday, Jun 24, 2010

* If this story doesn’t disgust you, nothing will.

A very prominent Kankakee-area businessman was indicted by the US Attorney’s office this week on five felony counts. The businessman, Michael J. Pinski, allegedly hired people to strip asbestos out of one of his buildings. They then dumped the highly toxic material into a field in Hopkins Park.

Hopkins Park, you will remember, is an almost all-black, exceedingly poor town in Kankakee County. The last time we checked in with that community, the county board chairman hadn’t even bothered to ask that the town be declared a disaster area after a big tornado tore through. Gov. Quinn had to step in and unilaterally declare the county a disaster area or they never would’ve gotten any help.

* Pinski is a local real estate developer and owner of Kankakee County Title Co. Both are pretty major K3 concerns. My dad says Pinski’s father was my pediatrician brothers’ dermatologist when I was a child. He comes from a wealthy, successful and quite prominent Kankakee family.

According to the indictment, Pinski allegedly hired Duane O’Malley, who runs a fire protection company, at a price that was “substantially less than a trained asbestos abatement contractor would have charged to remove the asbestos insulation.” And then they allegedly stuffed the asbestos into 127 large plastic garbage bags and dumped them all in that Hopkins Park field.

* Huge news, eh? It’s not often that a bigtime Kankakee businessman is indicted by the feds on five felony charges that each carry 5-year prison terms. Throw in the racial and class angle, and it’s a truly hot item.

So, how was it covered? I give you the complete Kankakee Daily Journal story

Three Kankakee County men are scheduled to appear in an Urbana federal court later this summer, indicted for improperly removing asbestos from a Kankakee building and dumping about 127 bags of the hazardous material in a Hopkins Park field.

Charged with four counts each of illegal asbestos removal and handling were: Michael J. Pinski, 41, of 17 Marquette Lane, Kankakee; Duane L. “Butch” O’Malley, 57, of 5649 N. 5000E Road, Bourbonnais; and James A. Mikrut, 47, of 43 S. Poplar St., Manteno. The charges were in connection with the August 2009 removal of asbestos from 197 S. West Ave., in Kankakee.

The building, which was being renovated, is owned by Pinski’s company, Dearborn Management Inc., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

O’Malley, owner of Origin Fire Protection, and Mikrut also were indicted on one count each of illegal asbestos disposal, and Mikrut and Pinski also were indicted on one count each of making a false statement to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency inspector, according to a copy of their indictments, obtained Monday by The Daily Journal.

That’s it. Nothing more.

A check of past issues shows the Daily Journal has interviewed Pinski several times. They talked to him about the Kankakee mayor’s race and how he’s surviving the economic downturn. They did a big puff piece on Pinski a few years back while he was developing the Dearborn Business Center downtown. But now that he’s under indictment? A little more than passing mention.

Pinksi and his cohorts allegedly endangered the health of who knows how many people by disgustingly dumping asbestos - of all things - in an open field, and it gets four grafs in the only paper in town.

Maybe now you’re getting a better idea of why Hopkins Park has always been on the short end of the stick. It’s a dumping ground for the area’s prejudices and, apparently, its dangerous pollutants. And nobody, including the newspaper, appears to care.

Frankly, I hope the feds throw the book at those clowns. And I hope that someday, somehow, the people who run the Kankakee Daily Journal will finally take just a wee bit of notice at what’s really going on around them. Shame on them. And shame on this entire state for letting it get this far.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - A.B. - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:32 am:

    I never thought I’d actually like to see someone tarred and feathered until now… this entire situation is an absolutely disgusting mess. Law enforcement should be lining up an extensive list of new inmates in Illinois out of this one.


  2. - Velma D. - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:32 am:

    Wow. With that kind of disregard for safety I wonder what the workers who revmoved the asbestos from the building were exposed to.


  3. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:35 am:

    Was this a park, park? Or was it a simple field masquarading as a park? It doesn’t matter except for determining the circle of hell this guy will dwell. Was it really used by kids?

    Can we charge him with attempted murder charges? Asbestos is not that “bad” unless it is disturbed (fromwhat I recall from years ago). I think in the open air/wind/rain is somethign that would disturb asbestos and do a lot of harm to people.


  4. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:37 am:

    I’m glad to see Pat Quinn took the initiative to get the area some help, thanks for the real story on this Rich.


  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:43 am:

    Wumpus, it was a field, not a park.


  6. - Montrose - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:44 am:

    This makes me so angry I cannot see straight. On top of all the other charges, I almost feel like this should be treated as a hate crime.


  7. - ourMagician - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:47 am:

    That would require the Journal to actually do a little work…


  8. - Been there done that . . . - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:57 am:

    Excellent job Rich, thanks for keeping us informed!


  9. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:58 am:

    Kankakee Garden Club Raises Funds For Hopkins Park

    Our fine ladies and gentlemen of the County, after hearing of the recent tornado which damaged the village of Hopkins Park, has established a Hopkins Park Community Fund which will be handled by the Kankakee Bank. Proceeds from the Kankakee Garden Club sales of vegetable and flower seed packets will go directly into the Fund, according to Ms. Molly Gunderson, this year’s chairwoman of the Club.

    “We just couldn’t do nothing. Those folks over there can use our help. So, the Club decided to sell garden seeds with the proceeds going to Hopkins Park”, Ms. Gunderson announced.

    “We will also be donating watermelon seeds directly to the Hopkins Park folks, in time for planting their favorite vegetable”, the Chairwoman said, “we also plan to hold a few summer chicken frys, and maybe even have some of the folks who live in Hopkins Park be allowed to attend them, perhaps.”

    “But don’t quote me on that, because I really have to pass that by my husband, Mr. Gunderson, at Kankakee Bank.”


  10. - anon - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 9:59 am:

    The Journal isn’t the best paper in the world. That being said, was that really the entire article? They don’t publish most full articles online for free. You have to be a subscriber.


  11. - A.B. - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:12 am:

    VM -

    Please tell me that was posted in the Onion…


  12. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:12 am:

    VM, is that satire too? Watermelon is not a vegetable.


  13. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:15 am:

    Aside from being homicidal, this action is racist to the core. I hope for criminal prosecution to put Pinski away for a long time and civil litigation to ensure his family has fewer assets going forward than any one of the many people he’s poisoned.


  14. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:22 am:

    No, it’s not satire. VM just figures that whenever a black neighborhood is mentioned, fried chicken and watermelons should be part of the discussion.


  15. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:27 am:

    I would not say that about VM. If it weren’t charity, I might protest that mess.


  16. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    Oh puhleeze. It’s obvious to me that the target of VM’s satire is the “chairwoman” of the “Garden Club” and not Hopkins Park residents.


  17. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:52 am:

    @ Lester Holt

    Yeah, VM was poking at the village, not the black residents. Get a clue, and check out this book at the library “Satire, Sarcasm, and how to tell if it’s a Joke”.

    Good read. Apparently your satire detector is broken.


  18. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    The Daily Journal is owned by the Small Newspaper Group. Another “prominent” K3 family.


  19. - Agent 99 - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 10:59 am:

    I can’t believe what I’m reading, which follows:

    “We will also be donating watermelon seeds directly to the Hopkins Park folks, in time for planting their favorite vegetable”, the Chairwoman said, “we also plan to hold a few summer chicken frys, and maybe even have some of the folks who live in Hopkins Park be allowed to attend them, perhaps.”

    Next it will be re-runs of “Mississippi Burning”

    Yikes


  20. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    Sheesh people, as much as I disagree with Vman generally, its obvious that his post is a fictitious story insulting the racism of the rest of Kankakee county. Get a grip.


  21. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:05 am:

    A testament to your powers Vman, it’s going over their heads.


  22. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    I’ve been told that a lot of self-righteous folks are too afraid to laugh at satire except in the privacy of their own homes, afraid they might offend people.

    If you cannot see any humor in writing that a banker’s wife who is chairwoman of the local garden club thinking she is doing her Christian charity by selling seeds and donating watermelon seeds to the local black community, you haven’t a funny bone in your body!

    It’s satire folks! If it wasn’t, there would have been no way Rich would have let it stay online. It is obviously satire!

    Or do you also believe they found an Asian Carp in Rod Blagojevich’s hair too!


  23. - G. Bailey - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:09 am:

    VM
    You sure the banker’s name wasn’t Mr. Potter?


  24. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:10 am:

    @Way Way Down Here-

    More like in one ear, scrambling their brains, and shooting out the other end.

    BTW, I mean that in a figurative sense not the literal sense. I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused and actually think that peoples brains were being scrambled. That would be an outrageous post.


  25. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:15 am:

    ===And I hope that someday, somehow, the people who run the Kankakee Daily Journal will finally take just a wee bit of notice at what’s really going on around them.===

    But won’t that make conversation at the country club, you know, awkward? The Small family knows darn well what’s been going on around them for decades. They’ve encouraged some of it too.

    And there has to be more info on how the feds traced all of this back to Pinski. He certainly isn’t the first to use Hopkins Park and Pembroke Township as a fly dump, but hopefully this will be the last.


  26. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:31 am:

    You sure the banker’s name wasn’t Mr. Potter?

    LOL!

    I chose “Molly” because you can’t get a whiter name according to the US Census than that, and “Gunderson” to reflect the historic German heritage of Kankakee County.

    …and some of you folks think I just wing this!

    I’m still a bit humored by those offended so easily! Are they that sensitive, or are they really that clueless?


  27. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:36 am:

    ===I chose “Molly” because you can’t get a whiter name according to the US Census than that, and “Gunderson” to reflect the historic German heritage of Kankakee County.===

    OK, easy there big fella. I enjoyed your earlier satire, but you’re on dangerous ground here. My wife is named Molly (yes, she’s pretty white) and if you’re looking for historical ethnicity in Kankakee County, it should be French, not German.
    Also, I think Gunderson is Swedish, not German.

    Otherwise, lol.


  28. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    ===it should be French, not German===

    It’s both.


  29. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 12:07 pm:

    Gunderson?
    Good grief! Do you know what this means?

    I was channeling “Little House On The Prairie” again! And Molly Gunderson is played by Shannen Dourety!


  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 12:33 pm:

    What an ugly story. Some great community leaders down there in Kankakee. Bollocks.


  31. - Cheswick - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 12:43 pm:

    VanillaMan, whatever that was, it didn’t help. But, good way to detract from the issue at hand.


  32. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:01 pm:

    Seems like Illinois everywhere, just more stark because of the lower population density. Sure, our news media screams and yells up here, but are we much better towards the poor communities? The shootings continue, the food deserts remain, the schools remain non-functional, the jobs don’t exist, polticians openly reward friends, winter fires are epidemic due to slum lords, etc. And it wouldn’t surprise me to find out the environmental brownfields on the south and west sides are more dangerous than people know. The only difference it seems between Kankakee and Cook County is that we all know what’s going on, including our major papers.


  33. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:11 pm:

    Keep pushing this issue, Rich. The light being shone on that corner of the state is absolutely needed. Thank you.

    VM, keep on keeping on. Very funny stuff.

    To those of you who didn’t know it was satire….?


  34. - Jake from Elwood - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:13 pm:

    Abhorrent behavior by abhorrent people.
    Hopkins Park is no Yucca Mountain.
    Life is hard enough for most of the folks who live in that township.
    Pure and unadulterated greed.


  35. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:14 pm:

    thanks for clearing that up.


  36. - Appalled - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    Satire or not, these comments made me sick to my stomach.


  37. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    @ Appalled

    I’m sorry good comedy/satire makes you ill to your stomach. Perhaps you would be better served reading a chidrens book instead of playing in the adult section of the internet?


  38. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 1:59 pm:

    Let’s hope the asbestos was contained in the plastic bags and that they didn’t break open.


  39. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 3:30 pm:

    So Rich posts a piece that at its core is about race and class. (I grew up in Iroquois County and know a bit about Hopkins Park and K3.) Vman writes a satiric piece that is so spot on that casual readers think it’s real. (Good Work) And now he’s taking flack?

    I was watching Blazing Saddles the other day with two of my adult children. One commented that you wouldn’t be allowed to make that movie today. I think he’s right. What has happend to us?


  40. - Just a Citizen - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 3:32 pm:

    I can’t believe those guys complete disregard for the health and well being of the people who live near the “dump” site. Total inhumanity!!!! Hope they have to spend a long,long time in Federal lockup for what they did. Keep the updates on this coming Rich!!!! And thanks for spotlighting it on your blog.


  41. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 3:51 pm:

    WWDH,

    Appalled is appalled at Blazing Saddles, too. In fact, Appalled is just about appalled at all comedy since it is so appalling.


  42. - obamalac - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 3:59 pm:

    As a 4th generation Kankakeean I know something on this subject. Pembroke Township is the largest township in the county and the poorest. The garbage in the yards is similar to what was in Bosnia after years of war; public services just didn’t function. The white establishment has always found a way to ignore Pembroke because of blatant racist beliefs or fear of the high crime rates. They didn’t want them in their schools,factories and churches. The local Democrat pary boys are worse than the Republican machine because they don’t effect change either. So many decades after the passage of the civil rights legislation we still see this total disregard for the folks living in Pembroke. It is sad and it is criminal in this case!


  43. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    What has happend to us?

    Our language has become politicised by self-righteous nannies shutting down discussions that challenge their ideologies. A century ago, it was the old folks shouting “degenerate!”, today it people shouting, “hater!”, since being a degenerate is no longer a slur.


  44. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 4:41 pm:

    There is nothing tying these villages to whites. Whites never lived there. Not only are there racial differences, there are cultural differences as well since these black towns are more rural South, and cities like Kankakee and Chicago Heights are immigrant North.

    Towns like Hopkins Park were never accepted. The land they occupy was discarded. There are no bonds of memories tying black villages like Hopkins Park and Ford Heights to white culture surrounding them.

    So it is easy for these villages to be invisible. Folks raised there try to leave them. Where would any town be without any civic pride or sense of place? Regardless of how much charity you give these places, folks living there would still rather not be there.

    Asbestos was dumped in Hopkins Park because everything got dumped in Hopkins Park since before there was ever a Hopkins Park. If the land where Hopkins Park wasn’t dumped on already, African Americans wouldn’t have been allowed to live there.

    If Kankakee experienced an economic boom similar to Orland Park, there would be no Hopkins Park because there would have been enough money and need for land east of Kankakee to swallow Hopkins Park up. Kankakee’s past forty years hasn’t been a boom, but a bust. Parts of Kankakee within city limits has similar needs too, and there is only so much money. Expecting folks in Bourbonnais, Bradley and Kankakee to see a need in Hopkins Park too, is expecting more from them than what we usually expect from us. A lot of folks decrying this situation, left Kankakee too.

    I have always had a spot in my heart for these little hopeless villages. After a lifetime of being around them, knowing the folks living in them, and with my studies, have come to a decision that keeping these places alive with hand outs, as we have been doing for forty years, isn’t helping. I believe we need to help these folks get out of there.


  45. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 4:54 pm:

    Whites did live there at one time, VMan.

    And this ignores reality…

    ===If Kankakee experienced an economic boom similar to Orland Park, there would be no Hopkins Park because there would have been enough money and need for land east of Kankakee to swallow Hopkins Park up.===

    They’ve been excluded for nearly a century, I don’t see them being all inclusive any time soon. Even in a boom.


  46. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 24, 10 @ 5:14 pm:

    ===I believe we need to help these folks get out of there.===

    I’ve wondered about this too VM. I lived in Kankakee County through high school and had a classmate who lived nearby, in St. Anne. She told me some of the families living in Hopkins Park were refugees from Chicago. They chose to move to Hopkins Park because it was rural, and therefore safer, than public housing projects in the city.

    I have no idea if that’s true, but all things considered, it’s at least plausible to think living in a shack in Pembroke Township might be better alternative than the Robert Taylor homes in the late 1980s. If nothing else, the sunsets are spectacular, the air is cleaner and the night is quieter than in the city. And it’s only an hour’s drive from Chicago.

    When you’re poor, you don’t have many housing alternatives to begin with. I don’t know how many, if any, Hopkins Park residents want to move, or where they’d want to go. But the county’s utter disregard for this community needs to change. These residents deserve actual paved roads as much as Bonfield and Manteno and Momence. And access to municipal water and sewers. And utilities.

    None of that currently exists in much of Pembroke. It’s like this township doesn’t exist in the same universe as the rest of townships in the county. That is the problem that needs to be addressed first.


  47. - Gregor - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 12:34 am:

    The entire town of Robbins, Illinois holds their hands to their mouths and says “No kidding!@?!?!?” “The deuce you say???”

    After reading this story, at least Robbins got some money out of the incinerator that got foisted on them. It is interesting that there’s this chunk of land just 20 or so minutes from Chicago and about five minutes from Kankakee, that looks like a giant hand scooped out a chunk of back-country Mississippi and plopped it on Illinois, minutes from the City. In the Capone days, that area had a rep as the place to hole up from the law or to dump things and people you never want found again.

    80 years later, seems like nothing’s changed, because the folks in charge over there like their setup the way they’ve always had it.


  48. - x ace - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 1:30 am:

    Think Pinski is a lessor to government , my recollection is that he leases a building on Rt 17 W to the County of K3 for the Health Dept . May be others.


  49. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 9:40 am:

    They chose to move to Hopkins Park because it was rural, and therefore safer, than public housing projects in the city.

    I personally know that is true and has been true not only for Hopkins Park, but for many hundreds of kids living with relatives and friends in the inner south suburbs of Chicago.

    Wouldn’t you do the same? I sure would! No way would I want my kids knocked off in Roseland or Kensington, when they can be safer in a poor rural village.

    But pumping more money into a place that doesn’t have any infastructure or businesses or future, is a waste of money. These towns need to be abandoned and their residents need real opportunities.


  50. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 9:45 am:

    They’ve been excluded for nearly a century, I don’t see them being all inclusive any time soon. Even in a boom.

    Perhaps, but when you have to choose between keeping Kankakee going or Hopkins Park, which would you choose? Kankakee hasn’t had such a swell time over the past forty years either. Bradley and Bourbonnais is where the money in Kankakee went during that time, leaving Kankakee to rot. If you are a county official, monies have to go where they do the most good for the most people - that would be in the rotting parts of Kankakee before Hopkins Park.

    What I’m trying to suggest here is the fact that Hopkins Park isn’t the only place hurting in Kankakee County. Kankakee isn’t doing well either. So it is also a matter of triage.


  51. - A friend of some prominent Kankakee families - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    Anyone who knows anything about “prominent Kankakee families” knows exactly who and what VM is writing about satirically. G. Bailey obviously gets it too.


  52. - dznuts - Friday, Jun 25, 10 @ 7:59 pm:

    Rich - wasn’t a member of the Small family buried alive in Hopkins Park several years ago? You would think the family might be a little more sensitive. The paper is more interested in their online video news clip and the trial of a former Grant Park Police Chief. They do love, however, to always include Rt. 4 St.Anne on the police beat stories when someone gets in a little trouble. It’s systemic indifference to anything east of Aroma Park.


  53. - Shay - Sunday, Jun 27, 10 @ 10:46 am:

    I hope that all that are responsible are put up under the jail-this is dispicable, no one deserves to be treated this way-no matter where they live, or how much money they don’t have. I am truly disgusted by this! That’s all I’m going to say because I want to say some other stuff that I am allowed to say on this comment board!


  54. - universaconnections - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:20 am:

    Watermelon seeds.why out of the seeds they could’ve. Donated they narrowed it down to watermelon seeds


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Inspector General Finds 'Cockroach Infesta......
* Hines VA Hospital staff working to rid kit......
* Senator Duckworth Calls For Investigation ......

* Meet Chicago's American Writers Museum
* The [Wednesday] Papers
* The impotent Illinois Education Association is a day late and a dollar short on pension theft.
* A remarkably clear explanation of Illinois public pension issues.
* Some corporations and LLCs still need to reinstate non-renewed real estate licenses
* VIDEO: April Housing Report
* JB Pritzker calls on Congress to initiate Trump impeachment proceedings
* Illinois Democrats pander to Rauner’s foolish bargain.
* Illinois considers adding more casinos to help fill budget gap
* ROTY Banquet tickets on sale until May 30


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* Facebook doubles down on live video with two new features
* Security & Privacy: Do You Need Mobile Antivirus Apps?
* LG V10 scores Android 7.0 Nougat a little sooner than expected, at least in Korea
* Robotic toymaker Sphero unveils Ultimate Lightning McQueen — a chatty, smartphone-controlled car
* Deal: 1TB of Zoolz Dual Cloud Storage is just $29.99 for life
* Apple Said to Aim for Trial Production of Micro-LED Displays by End of 2017
* T-Mobile Will Pay Off Your iPhone If You Switch From Verizon

* Quintana looks to avoid another no-decision
* Renteria uses NL maneuvers to guide club
* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert
* Keeping it 100: Abreu hits milestone homer
* Covey exits start in 3rd with oblique soreness
* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert
* Quintana looks to avoid another no-decision


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