Alderman Michael R. Zalewski                         
Serving Chicago's 23rd Ward, Chairman of Committee on Aviation

Press Releases



Potholes have certainly invaded many major roadways in Chicago. Most notably as part of the aftermath of unpleasant winter storms and the traumatic temperature changes. Places with the most display of potholes include a huge section of Northern Illinois and the city of Chicago.

My staff and I are well aware of the various portions of the area that have been drastically destroyed by potholes. While potholes cannot all be repaired permanently especially among sporadic winter storms and abnormal below 0 temperatures, my office has been doing their best to identify the repairs needed. I have assigned staff to survey a wide array of areas that have been hit hardest and have compiled a list of repairs. The options available now include a temporary patch till April when the City can fix them permanently. Fortunately, come this spring one of the hardest places hit on Archer, from Nottingham to Harlem, will be permanently repaired as Harlem becomes re-surfaced.

Please be patient, as we continue to work diligently with CDOT in tracking, surveying, and repairing these potholes. Your requests are more than important to my staff and I. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and notify us of potholes that we may have missed. We would appreciate your help in continuing the fight against potholes.

Chicago Department of Aviation
Automated Passport Control Arrives at MDW
Officials cut a ribbon in front of Automated Passport Control kiosks at Midway International Airport on March 19, 2014. Pictured left to right: Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner, CDA; Matthew Davies, Area Port Director, CBP; the Honorable Michael Zalewski, City of Chicago Alderman (23rd Ward); Erin O'Donnell, Managing Deputy Commissioner, Midway, CDA.   
CHICAGO, March 19, 2014 - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Chicago Midway International Airport today to celebrate the launch of the innovative Automated Passport Control (APC) program, which uses BorderXpress kiosk technology developed byVancouver International Airport (YVR).  APC helps travelers move more quickly through the U.S. customs clearance process by entering information at a self-service kiosk - without pre-registration or a required fee. The implementation of this technology at Midway mirrors its implementation at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in July 2013, which has resulted in reduced wait times for passengers arriving at O'Hare's International Terminal 5.
"This technology reinforces Chicago's leading position as a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers and builds upon continued efforts to make Chicago O'Hare the most convenient global gateway in the world," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Having two of the first airports in the U.S. to implement this new technology demonstrates how serious we are about making Chicago the first, best and most welcoming city in the country."
Three of six Automated Passport Control (APC) BorderExpress kiosks at Midway International Airport in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) area.
The use of BorderXpress APC kiosks at O'Hare has significantly changed the passenger experience in the international arrivals hall by increasing the flow of passengers through primary inspection, reducing CBP wait times and misconnects for travelers. Comparing CBP data from Nov. 2012-Feb. 2013 (pre-APC) to Nov. 2013-Feb. 2014 (after APC), shows that average CBP wait times at O'Hare have decreased by 27.5 percent and that the average maximum wait time has decreased by about 15 percent. In addition, during the same time periods used, passenger volume at O'Hare's International Terminal increased by more than 100,000 (from 1.1 million passengers up to 1.2 million passengers).
Chicago was the first city in the country to utilize the APC technology. Today's announcement will make Chicago the first city in the country to have this expedited processing technology at two airports.  In addition, Midway is the first airport to use the latest version of BorderXpress APC kiosks (Standard size), which provides a smaller form factor to reduce the space required for kiosks by 20 percent, while minimizing capital costs.
"We are very pleased that the APC program is now in place at Midway International Airport to help expedite the re-entry process for international travelers," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. "With the continued partnership between the CDA, CBP and our airline partners, travelers arriving at both of Chicago's airports will experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing."
There are three carriers serving eight international destinations out of Midway:
  • Porter Airlines provides 32 flights a week to Toronto, Canada.
    Passengers arriving from Toronto use APC to clear customs at Midway International Airport on March 19, 2014.   
  • Southwest Airlines (through AirTran) flies 27 flights a week to three international destinations that include: Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  • And Volaris Airlines, Mexico's second largest carrier, serves four destinations in Mexico with 17 flights each week to: Guadalajara, Mexico; Morelia, Mexico;León/Del Bajio, Mexico and Zacatecas, Mexico.
More than 20 million passengers travel through Midway annually. And in 2013, more than 270,000 of those passengers passed through the customs area, representing a nearly 40 percent increase over 2012 numbers.
"CBP takes pride in its commitment to improving the passenger arrival experience and working with the City of Chicago and our airline partners," said Steven Artino, the acting director of CBP Chicago Office of Field Operations. "Automated Passport Control is a perfect demonstration of that commitment and partnerships at work."
APC was developed by Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) and CBP. The APC system offers U.S. and Canadian passport-holding passengers an automated process through CBP's Primary Inspection area.  Instead of filling out a declaration card, passengers who are eligible and choose to use APC can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the CBP area.  Travelers are prompted to answer a series of questions at the touch screen self-service kiosk.  Once passengers have completed the series of questions, a receipt is issued. Travelers then bring their passport, travel information and the receipt to a CBP officer for verification, ensuring the appropriate security measures are in place.
"Leveraging our deep history as an airport innovator, YVR's BorderXpress APC kiosks improve the passenger experience while making set-up and management as easy on airports as possible," said Craig Richmond, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority.  "We are very pleased to work with Midway to expedite the border clearance process and bring substantial benefits to all: shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing."
By removing the administrative responsibilities for a CBP officer to scan a traveler's passport and verify their paper Customs declaration, the time spent with a CBP officer is greatly reduced.  At the same time, APC maintains the highest levels of protection when it comes to the handling of personal data or information.  

Posted by Chicago Department of Aviation


Pictured here are Alderman Zalewksi, Executive Director Cherese Ledet, and her YMCA staff.

On January 18, 2014, Alderman Zalewski joined YMCA Executive Director Cherese Ledet and her staff at 6235 S. Homan to celebrate their new Fitness Program. Saturday offered community residents a chance to take a tour and opportunity to participate in free activites and classes (that would be offered through the Fitness Program).  The event was held all afternoon and even gave community residents the chance to even win a free membership to the new program. For more information and to register, please click here.

On December 18, 2013, Alderman Zalewski was interviewed by Political Analyst Paul Lisnek of CLTV's "Politics Tonight" regarding new development and growth in the 23rd Ward. In this segment, Lisnek interviewed 50 aldermen from 50 wards about improvements in their area. Click on this link to watch Alderman Zalewski's interview. If an error persists, try switching web browsers.


        Alderman Michael R. Zalewski Helps Kinzie PTC Host Their First Blanket Drive

Pictured above are Pastor Reverend Julie Fleurinor, Alderman Michael R. Zalewski, church members, and representatives of Kinzie, Dore, Twain, Byrne, and Hale.

On Wednesday, December 18, 2013 Kinzie School PTC President Kelly Lucas and Vice-President Maria Ceska organized a Blanket Drive with local schools from the 23rd ward and surrounding area at Resurrection United Methodist Church at 5717 West 63rd Place. 


Pictured here are residents Erin McCabe, Miranda Diaz, Wilma Aguinaga, Alderman Zalewski and Robin King.

Stars and Stripes Park, located at 51st and Nordica will be getting renovations totaling $550,000.  Funding for the improvements came from Alderman Mike Zalewksi’s Ward Menu money and the Chicago Park District.  “I applaud the Advisory Council’s hard work in helping re-design this special park in our ward.  Families for years to come will benefit from their efforts” Alderman Zalewski stated.



Pictured with Alderman Zalewski,is resident Mr. Hernandez and his son.

Residents of the 23rd Ward will be getting relief from flooded alleys as construction began in 2 locations.  The alleys at 6800 W. 64th Pl. and 5600 New England and Newcastle were constantly under water every time heavy rains came through the area.  Just this week, Alderman Zalewski visited both sites monitoring the construction.  “Finally, the families on these blocks will no longer have to worry every time we get a downpour.  I will continue to fight to bring our tax dollars back to our neighborhood,” Zalewski stated.




As part of an ongoing effort to upgrade service in the 23rd Ward, Commonwealth Edison announced the installation of numerous “distribution automation devices.”  These “smart switches” allow ComEd to monitor the system remotely and can detect and address potential problems before they occur.  These improvements are part of the new Smart Grid Law in which ComEd will invest $2.6 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

“I’m glad ComEd is investing in our community so we can avoid prolonged power outages. These upgrades will improve reliability! When heavy storms come through, these devices will be very helpful,” Alderman Zalewski said.



Two-year project unites all rental car operators at Midway into one convenient location





CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced the grand opening of a new consolidated rental facility at Midway International Airport located at 5150 W. 55th Street. This new facility would centralize the rental car customer service centers like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Thrifty, and Enterprise into a five-level garage that can accommodate 1,870 vehicles. It also includes a quick turnaround facility where vehicles are fueled, washed, and prepared for rental.


Construction began in August of 2011 and was completed within time and budget. According to Mayor Emanuel, the project was one of the largest investment projects completed at Midway Airport in almost 10 years, provided 200 construction jobs and will be employing more than 600 employees. As Alderman Zalewski noted at the grand opening, “Midway is not only the heartbeat of the Southwest side of Chicago, it is also the economic engine of the southwest side of the city. Community leaders, residents, and employees who work at Midway recognize how important this airport is to the City of Chicago and the entire nation.”




Posted 08/08

Alderman Michael Zalewski and the Garfield Ridge Branch of the Chicago Public Library would like to congratulate the 748 readers who read over 21,000 books this summer.  This year’s top picture book reader is Jacob Villalobos who reported on 325 books. Over 600 children attended weekly programs at the library that focused on reading and healthy living with fun, interactive activities. Alderman Michael Zalewski (23rd Ward) donated gift certificates to the top readers. Other sponsors of this year’s summer reading program at the Garfield Ridge Library included Lindy’s Chili, Clorox Corporation, Archer Pharmacy, Home Run Inn, Obbie’s Pizza and Haunted Trails.



Posted 08/02 City Newshound

Alderman Michael Zalewski is pleased to announce Al Cacciottolo as the new 23rd Ward Streets and Sanitation Superintendent. “Al will be a great addition to the Streets and Sanitation team. His long involvement in our community makes him a perfect fit for this important position,” said Alderman Zalewski. For any Streets and Sanitation request please contact Superintendent Al Cacciottolo at 5556 S. Central Avenue, (312) 747-5588.        


Posted 06/18 by Fran Spielman City Hall Reporter

Concerned about a spike in gang graffiti in Chicago neighborhoods and a slowdown in city removal of it, an influential alderman is gearing up for a major offensive against juvenile vandals and their parents.

Two days after vandals defaced a memorial to fallen Chicago police officers near Soldier Field, Alderman Michael Zalewski (23rd) proposed taking graffiti cases out of the hands of city hearing officers and returning them to the courts, where judges might be more inclined to throw the book at offenders.

As it stands, most graffiti cases end up before hearing officers who issue tickets - not judges who could put the vandals in jail. Zalewski's proposal would change that, upping the realistic change of jail. In addition, Zalewski wants to dramatically increase the fines for graffiti vandals - from $750 and up to 1,500 hours of community service to $2,000 and "not less than three days" in jail or 2,500 hours of community service. His ordinance would also double the minimum fine for parents or legal guardians - from $250 to $500 and raise the maximum fine from $750 to $1,000.

For decades, Chicago gangs have used graffiti to mark their territories. Graffiti is also used to threaten rivals or take credit for shootings, which can lead to retaliation. Enemies of the Latin Kings might scrawl "King Killa" on  a wall to brag about murdering a member of the gang, for example. 

But a lot of the graffiti marring city subways and viaducts is done by urban artists — taggers — who don’t have anything to do with gangs.

Recently, gangs have started to “cyber-tag,” portraying their graffiti and symbols in online videos to boast about their deeds.

Zalewski, chairman of the City Council’s Aviation Committee, said he was disgusted by the red spray painted graffiti that nearly marred a Father’s Day mass for the families of fallen police officers. But he’s equally concerned about the 30 garages in a 1.5-block stretch of his Southwest Side ward that got tagged with graffiti last week.

“Many of these offenders are just getting a slap on the wrist and they’re right back out there doing it again. If some of these kids sit in jail for a few days instead of getting hit with a fine they never pay, they’ll think twice about doing it again,” the alderman said.

‘Need to be sent away’

Residents of the 5100 block of South Leamington — which bore the brunt of the last week’s tagging Zalewski referred to — were united in support of tougher sanctions.

“They’re young kids who know they’ll get away with it,” said Felicia Puga, 18. “They need to be sent away.”

Puga said she called police after witnessing three people jump out of a Chevrolet Suburban last Wednesday night to brazenly spray paint the symbols of the Latin King street gang on garages on the block of neatly-kept bungalows.

“It was over so quickly — the police didn’t get here in time,” she said.

One of the vandalized homes belongs to the seriously ill 89-year-old mother of Charlie Kawalec. Kawalec’s sister spotted the graffiti Thursday morning, but neither she nor Kawalec have told their mother about the incident.

“That’s something you don’t want to worry an older person with — she’s and lived here 40 years and there haven’t been any gang problems until now,” Kawalec said.

That was also the view of Eric Calzade, 28. The vandals broke into his garage to steal the paint used in last week’s attack, he said.

“This isn’t 26th Street — Garfield Ridge has always been a safe neighborhood where a lot of police officers live,” he said.

“Now my parents are talking about selling the house where they’ve lived for 35 years at a loss so that they can move somewhere safer. I hope the police catch these kids and lock them up - they should definitely make the punishments bigger.”

Some, but not all cuts, restored

Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel restored some of the money he initially cut from the city’s graffiti removal budget under pressure from aldermen, Zalewski said the Department of Streets and Sanitation has “less personnel than ever” to remove graffiti.

“We were getting rid of it in one or two days. Now, it’s taking up to two weeks. If graffiti just lays out there, people get the impression that the area is gang-infested. They lose faith in their community. Property values go down. I’m not blaming Streets and San. They don’t have the personnel. But we have to fight back,” said Zalewski, a former deputy commissioner in Streets and San.

Even after appeasing aldermen by restoring $1 million in graffiti removal cuts, Emanuel’s first budget reduced annual spending on graffiti removal from $5.7 million and 60 employees in 2011 to $4.1 million and 43 employees this year.

Even so, the Emanuel administration insists that it has used a grid system similar to the one now being implemented for garbage collection to boost the daily productivity of graffiti removal crews by 16 percent.

At the same time, graffiti removal requests to the city’s 311 helpline are down 18 percent — from 65,287 through June 15, 2011, to 53,527 during the same period this year, officials said.

With the budget cuts, the average graffiti removal request stays open for seven days — a day longer than a year ago, officials said.

Despite concerns about an apparent spike in graffiti vandalism tied to the mayor’s budget cuts, Emanuel spokesman Tom Alexander insisted that the city is keeping a lid on the insidious problem that threatens to create an atmosphere that breeds gang crime.

“The new ‘blitz’ system for combating graffiti is doing a great job of getting rid of graffiti from our streets, saving taxpayer resources and keeping our communities clean and safe. We believe that the system is working well and has resulted in graffiti requests being handled promptly and efficiently,” Alexander said.

“The new system also affords us flexibility in cases of dangerous or particularly offensive graffiti, so we can deal with these cases immediately. In short, the system has worked exactly as we intended.”

Al Cacciotolo, president of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch Group, said a crackdown is needed to squelch a “spike” in graffiti and a slowdown in the city’s efforts to remove it.

“Obviously, they’re trying to stake out a territory or intimidate the area. We need to get this thing cleaned up to show that, ‘We won—not you.’ If it sits there for more than a couple of days, it shows that the gangbanger won,” Cacciotolo said, noting that five “major buildings” along Archer Avenue were hit last weekend.

Cacciotolo noted that, under current law, graffiti vandals only go to court if they’re caught in the act doing more than $500 worth of damage. Most of the damage is for less than that amount. And since most offenders do their dirty-work between midnight and 3 a.m., they are rarely caught in the act, he said.

“We’re so pumped up that the aldermen is taking the lead on this. We want these guys to pay.”

During the 22-year reign of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the city spent $4 million-a-year on Graffiti Blasters — sandblasters that used baking soda instead of sand to clean tens of thousands of buildings defaced by vandals.

In 2007, Daley tried to put the financial squeeze on parents of young vandals, only to be thwarted by aldermen concerned the new fines were too steep for poor families and grandparents struggling to raise their children’s children.

The fines were subsequently reduced by two-thirds — from at least $750 and as much as $3,000 or restitution, whichever is greater, to $250.

Daley responded with trademark sarcasm.  He offered to reduce the fine to $5 and raise it to $500 after "the second or third or the fourth or 50th" offense. He also said he proposed the fines because "everyone is sick and tired of cleaning it off when it's the same people" causing all the damage.


Posted 06/01 by Joe Boyle, Southwest City News-Herald

Community leaders, parents and staff at Blair Early Childhood Center, 6751 W. 63rd Place, were out in force last Friday morning to witness the dedication of the facility's new playground. On hand for the playground dedication was Alderman Michael Zalewski (23rd), who was instrumental in raising funds to construct the playground, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Alderman Matt O'Shea (19th) was also in the attendance. Zalewski, Emanuel and Karen Bryar, the principal at Blair, took part in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting before a large crowd of parents, their children and teachers. Blair Early Childhood Center is a Chicago Public School that is designed to meet the needs of children ages 3 to 6 with multiple disabilities. State of the art teaching techniques are enhanced by augmentative communication devices to provide nonverbal students with a voice to participate in classroom activities. Programs and services are designed to meet the needs of the child and the family, recognizing their diversity and the uniqueness of their needs. Emanuel praised the dedication of the Blair staff and the community at large. He spoke about his own sister who has a disability and the importance of a school of Blair's caliber.

"I want to thank the Alderman (Zalewski) for his efforts in getting this playground completed," said Emanuel. "It is important that the kids have a place to play. They should have the opportunity to do what all kids do, and that is to play." Bryar was honored before the ribbon-cutting by Variety, the children's charity, with a presidential citation plaque for her work at Blair. Noticeably moved with the presentation, Bryar told the large crowd that gathered in front of the school about her work and "how important these kids are to me." She also thanked the Chicago Public School Groundbreakers, who played a major role in the funding and construction of the playground.

"They made our dream of a playground for children with disabilities come true," Bryar said. "We have great teachers and we have many people come back to visit," added Bryar. "I can see many of them out there today. Everyone knows how important these kids are to me." Blair has an enrollment of 94. Along with specialized teaching, Blair offers a variety of specific programs for students, including computer classes, a horticulture program, judo and yoga. Snoezelen, a multisensory therapy room, is offered at the school as well. A library is available at Blair for the youngsters along with art classes and education. - Southwest City News-Herald

Photo credit: Brooke Collins/City of Chicago


Posted 5/29

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is celebrating Older Americans Month in May by offering area seniors a series of events and activities designed to keep them active mentally and physically.


The theme of this year’s national observance is “Never Too Old to Play,” and it recognizes that older Americans are actively contributing to our communities while having fun in the process.


Among the activities offered are dance fitness classes such as Zumba and Dancercise, sports competitions, continuing education, classes on art and gardening, health screenings and formal gatherings that allow seniors to keep fit and stay active in their communities.


There are close to 400,000 city residents who are 60 years old or better, and the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services assisted as many as 150,000 of them in 2011 via the department’s programs and a network of 19 Regional and Satellite Senior Centers throughout the city.


Evelyn Diaz, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support services observed: “In addition to providing basic vital services such as home delivered meals and case management, the department takes a holistic approach and offers older residents access to other activities such as art classes, book clubs, computer training, and dance related fitness programs to strengthen both the body and the mind.”


Seniors interested in participating in Chicago’s Older Americans Month Activities can consult our calendar showing an overview of all of the planned weekday events in May or can contact the DFSS Senior Services Information and Assistance line at 312-744-4016.

In the Photo from Left to Right: DFSS Deputy Commissioner Yolanda Curry, DFSS Regional Senior Services Director Tom Jones, DFSS Senior Services Executive Director Joyce Gallagher, One of Garfield Ridge's lucky Bingo winners, and 23rd Ward Alderman Mike Zalewski



Posted 4/12

Alderman Michael Zalewski met with former President Lech Walesa recently during his visit to
the City of Chicago.  Lech Walesa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.

Website Builder