Category Archives: Fake Pols

Defensive Daley Disinforms

“Mayor Richard Daley today scoffed at complaints that next month’s increases in parking meter rates would affect people in many Chicago neighborhoods,” the Tribune reports.

“The mayor said there are ‘very few (meters) in the neighborhoods. It’s about 80 percent downtown – 80, 85 percent downtown in 2 or 3 wards. It’s not in the communities’.”

Whoa!

“In fact, of the city’s 34,264 metered spots, about 8,100 are in the 42nd and 2nd Wards that cover downtown. That’s only about one-fourth of them, not the four-fifths Daley claimed.”

Hey, no one said Daleyland was a reality-based community.

Chief of Cash

The New York Times delves into what it calls “a little-known episode of Mr. Emanuel’s biography” – you know, those 36 months in which he made $18 million working as a mergers & acquisitions guy.

My favorite part is this:

“Confidants of Mr. Emanuel’s said he decided to try his hand at business because he wanted financial security for his family, before eventually returning to public service.”

Oh, the sacrifices he’s made for us!

“He had a number in his head to make enough for the family,” one of Rahm’s brothers, Ezekiel, told the Times.

And he fell just short!

Parking Pablum

Let’s not let the always dependable Bea Reyna-Hickey, the city’s revenue director, go unnoticed.

“The Chicago Sun-Times reported in August that Chicago Police officers had written 84,000 fewer tickets than last year and were on pace to end the year with a 9 percent dropoff from the 1.63 million police-issued tickets in 2007,” the paper reports.

“At a City Hall news conference Monday, Reyna-Hickey at first attributed the ticket plunge to drivers who ‘take their parking more seriously’ and are less inclined to park illegally.”

If only – though we should all drive and park to the letter of the law just to spite the mayor, who is depending on our violations to balance his budget.

“But, questioned further, she said, ‘Police [ticketing] has decreased . . . Clearly the police have a lot of other important things to tend to.”

The moral of the story: Always question further. And take your parking seriously.

Mr. Clean Wasn’t

Seemingly out of the blue, Ald. Ed Smith has written to President Bush requesting not only that George Ryan’s sentence be commuted, but that former Ald. Larry Bloom be pardoned.

Of course, nothing just happens out of the blue in Chicago politics, so I’m sure there’s a backstory we’re not privy to yet. But let us now take a moment to remember Bloom’s crime, and ponder whether he, of all felons in Illinois, deserves forgiveness.

Bloom, you may recall, was stung in Operation Silver Shovel, having accepted $14,000 in bribes from FBI mole John Christopher. A lousy $14,000!

He pled guilty to a felony tax charge and served six months in the famed federal retreat in Oxford, Wisconsin, where he was probably laughed at by other Chicago pols for his meager haul. Bloom was released in 1999.

He shared a prison wing with three former aldermen, Virgil Jones, John Madrzyk and Jesse Evans; a former Water Reclamation Commissioner, Tom Fuller; and a former state representative, Bruce Farley. “We didn’t have a name for our wing, but we’d call `quorum’ every time we walked down the hall,” Bloom joked to Sneed after his release.

Hilarious, don’t you think?

If Bloom had been any other pol, it would have been easier to take. But Bloom’s real crime was to deepen the cynicism of our local political culture because he wasn’t just any other pol – he was Mr. Clean. From Hyde Park. An independent. A reformer.

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Obama Punts

“Add president-elect Barack Obama to the growing list of politicians across Illinois issuing statements this week about former George Ryan being released from federal prison,” NBCChicago.com reports. “He doesn’t have an opinion.”

You know, I wrote the other day over on the Beachwood that I wasn’t going to spend the next four years saying “I told you so,” but that doesn’t mean I’m never gonna say it. So consider it said.

The Devils in Durbin’s Details

A collection of noteworthy points, details and arguments from the Durbin-Ryan-commutation imbroglio that I haven’t yet had a chance to point out.

* “If Ryan is released early, he will have spent less time in prison than two friends convicted in the case – Ryan’s aide, Scott Fawell, who did the dirty work, and businessman Lawrence Warner, who profited from the dirty deals,” the Sun-Times notes in an editorial today.

* “Let’s also look at one of the main assertions on Ryan’s behalf, that he’s been punished enough in part because his government pension has already been taken away,” Mark Brown writes today.

“What they fail to mention is that he had already collected about $800,000 from his ridiculous $197,000-a-year pension before he was sent off to prison. How many of you can expect to collect $800,000 from a pension in your entire lifetime? Not many. It’s not our fault if he spent it all.”

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10 Questions for Dick Durbin

UPDATE DEC. 2: Some of these questions have now been asked and – sort of – answered. Let’s take a look (from various news sources).

*

Well, Durbin did it.

1. Why not just wait for Barack Obama to become president and ask for him to commute George Ryan’s sentence? You certainly have more influence with Obama than George W. Bush. And Obama certainly is more familiar with Ryan’s case.

“Durbin said he did not ‘think it would be appropriate’ to wait to ask President-elect and fellow Illinois Democrat Barack Obama to issue a commutation when he takes office since clemency actions normally come during the final days of an outgoing presidency.

Define “appropriate.” And, actually, presidents act on pardons and clemency requests throughout their terms; there is usually a flurry at the end of a term because it’s the last chance they get to exercise their power. And wouldn’t it be more appropriate if the new president from Illinois acted on this case? And will someone ask where Obama stands on this?

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My Darling Clemency

In conjunction with stating on Thursday that George Ryan should be set free, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to announce the following this week:

* He will not only keep Death Row empty, but clear out Simple Felony and Misdemeanor Row too.

* He is planning to enter the priesthood sometime between the end of his term as governor and the day of his coming federal indictment. He has also taken on a second job at a soup kitchen and a third job as a paralegal at Winston & Strawn.

* He will accept an ambassadorship from Barack Obama, but swears it is not because it will give him diplomatic immunity.

* Yes, he knows what irony means.

* Patti made him do it.

Meanwhile, Jim Thompson insists that Ryan feels remorse.

A) He’s just been too shy to say so publicly.
B) He’s damn sorry he ever trusted Scott Fawell.
C) He’s sorry he shanked that guy in Unit C and he’ll apologize for anything to get out before the ladies trap him in the shower.

Todd’s Folly

“Budget day is like Groundhog Day in Cook County,” Commissioner Mike Quigley says. “Every day is the same day over and over again.”

No kidding. I’m not sure how guys like Quigley and Claypool can take it; I mean, if we’re frustrated, imagine what it must be like in the trenches.

Just for starters, copies of the budget weren’t available because some of the figures were inaccurate. Again. Printer’s error. Supposedly.

“Every year, President Stroger issues his budget, and it’s a mess,” Claypool said. “It’s full of errors. It’s incomplete.”

And it’s a budget that calls for borrowing to pay the bills. Hey, the Sun-Times asks, what happened to all that new sales tax money? “What we were going to do with the surplus was to put it in a reserve fund, which is sound financial practice and that’s what rating agencies really want to see, that we have a rainy day fund.”

Hasn’t it been raining in Cook County for years?

Even the good news doesn’t turn out to be ture.

“Right now, I don’t believe we have the votes,” said John Daley, chairman of the finance committee. (And by “we,” he meant “we.”)

Not true, according to the Daily Herald.

“[W]hile Stroger allies have said repeatedly they don’t have the votes to pass the borrowing, a survey of commissioners Tuesday by the Daily Herald reveals that, in fact, they likely have the bare minimum of nine votes to pass it, but want other commissioners to join them so they are not forced to take the heat alone,” Rob Olmstead reports.

Memo to John Daley: Pull your pal Todd aside and teach him a lesson from your brother. The best way to get cooperation from your legislative body is to co-opt them first, then bully them.

Adopt the Quigley/Claypool reforms. It will only make you stronger.

Luis’s Folly

So Luis Gutierrez’s pitch to Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the Senate was that he only wanted to serve as a place-holder for the next two years in order to work on immigration reform. Then he’d be out.

Um . . . huh?

Let’s do some good ol’ fashion speculatin’.

1. Face value is reality. Nah.

2. Face value is partially reality. Gutierrez wants two years in the Senate not only to work on immigration reform, but to raise his profile for his next move: mayor, governor, who knows.

3. Gutierrez thinks his wife will be able to make even more lucrative real estate deals on the side if he’s a senator instead of just a rep.

4. Gutierrez mistakenly believes that Obama’s Hyde Park mansion comes with the seat.

5. Gutierrez mistakenly believed that Blagojevich preferred a place-holder; his real intention was to run for re-election to the Senate in 2010 because the people would demand it.