Dolton village president wants to change Dorchester Senior Center management

2013-05-21T14:02:00Z 2013-05-21T22:24:04Z Dolton village president wants to change Dorchester Senior Center managementGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
May 21, 2013 2:02 pm  • 

DOLTON | Village President Riley Rogers said Tuesday he has attorneys looking for ways to get out of the contract the village has with a company that manages the Dorchester Senior Center.

That company, LL Care and Fitness, has had a contract since March 2011 to run the facility for Dolton. It is a firm run in part by Angelique Lewis, who is the daughter of former Village President Ronnie Lewis.

Rogers defeated Lewis in the April 9 municipal elections and has made several changes to village government including the hiring of new police and fire chiefs since being sworn into office at the beginning of May.

Another change he wants to make is in the Dorchester management, which Rogers said costs Dolton homeowners a “corruption tax” of $150 to $200 per year in higher property taxes they pay to the village.

Rogers said he is searching for an entity that manage the assisted living facility in a professional manner. He said would like to hire a new company when he finds a way to get out of the contract the Village Board awarded at Lewis' insistence to LL Care and Fitness.

Rogers said he will have the Village Board hold a special meeting Friday at the Dorchester, 1515 E. 154th St., to ask LL Care and Fitness officials to explain how they are using the money paid to them by the village, and also detail the services they provide to the roughly 55 people who live there.

“I have met with some of the residents at the Dorchester and it pains me to see that our seniors have to suffer with broken equipment and long lines,” Rogers said. “My mother is ill and elderly, and I would not allow her to endure that kind of treatment. The residents of the Dorchester deserve no less.”

At the time the contract was awarded, Ronnie Lewis said he believed his daughter was qualified to run the facility and claimed opposition to the contract was “a political game” by his opponents.

The Dorchester was once a Ramada Inn hotel, but it was purchased by the village in the mid-1980s and turned into an independent living facility for low-income senior citizens.

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that federal investigators are studying the facility and its management. The newspaper reported that records related to a mid-2000s renovation of the facility were subpoenaed earlier this year.

That renovation was done during the administration of Village President William Shaw, who has since passed away. The Times could not reach Angelique Lewis to comment, while officials at the Dorchester declined to answer questions from The Times or take a message for Lewis.

Rogers, who is a police investigator with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, said he plans to cooperate with the federal investigation, which he hopes provides information that could help his administration resolve long-standing problems with Dorchester management.

“It is important that everyone understand the full scope of the mismanagement and corruption that we have faced in Dolton for the last 16 years,” he said.

A phone number for Ronnie Lewis has been disconnected and The Times could not contact him for comment.

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