Go to ABC7Chicago.com

abc7chicago.com blogs
Read more ABC7 blogs


- Chicago news

« August 2010 | Main | October 2010 »

September 2010

They Run for the Money

  Have you noticed how quickly Illinois politicians move when it comes to raising taxes or fees?

  Take the Illinois Tollway Authority, for example, and how speedily it "closed" this week's decision to nearly double the rates drivers pay to use the system's highways.

  Board Chairman Paula Wolfe reminded me that her members had considered a toll increase to fund a $12 billion capital program since early 2010. 

  But public hearings on the 87.5% proposed hike did not begin until August 18th and the series of 15 sessions were crammed into the next five days ending on August 23rd.

  Incredibly, the Board met  two days later on the morning of August 25th to "vote" its approval of the 15-year program as if the members had given any real study or consideration to the public testimony, most of which was orchestrated by self-interested labor unions and roadbuilders.

  While covering what critics called the "done deal" at the Tollway's palatial Downers Grove headquarters, I could not help but think of the Chicago Public School Board's decision a day earlier to approve a "maximum-allowed" increase in the city property tax.

  On August 5th, only one week after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicagoans were being "nickeled and dimed" by taxers, the CPS Board appointed by the Mayor proposed raising property taxes.  The new levy would cost the owner of an average home ($250,000) an additional $84 a year.  The increase would generate $150 million dollars of the district's projected $712 million deficit.

  Taxpayers barely had a chance to see the CPS budget on line, let alone on paper, before public hearings were scheduled five days later on August 10th, 11th and 12th. 

  Emanuel's Board voted and approved the tax increase unanimously August 24th. 


  The Tollway Authority and Chicago School Board may have learned from the "clinic" Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the democratic legislative leaders held earlier this year on "the need for speed".

  Remember last January when the General Assembly reconvened for its "lame duck" session? 

  In a scant 48 hours ending before dawn on Jan. 12th, the democratic-controlled House and Senate had raised the Illinois corporate and personal income tax rates only hours before new members could be seated.  The next day, January 13th, the Governor signed the bill, which was retroactive to January 1st.


  Taxpayers never knew what hit 'em.

   Keep in mind that high-speed taxation is happening in Illinois as newly-elected state and city "reform" politicians use the word "transparent" to describe their new modus operandi.

  Its transparent, all right.

  Taxpayers should see right through it.




Grass is "Green" in Illinois

  The Green Party's candidate for Illinois Governor, Rich Whitney, has proposed a way to reduce crime, cut state spending and raise hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue.

  Legalize marijuana.

  The Carbondale attorney, in his second run for the state's highest office, repeated his idea at the stodgy Chicago Civic Federation forum.  And once again, the suits stared at the bearded Whitney as though the candidate had been smoking something.

   "Prohibition was a disaster when we tried it with alcohol" writes Whitney on his campaign website.  "Criminalizing it only fueled organized crime and violence".

   He continues: "The same is true of our criminalization of marijuana, which also wastes a tremendous amount of criminal justice resources apprehending, prosecuting and punishing people for using a benign and in some respects beneficial natural plant".

  The 54 year old Whitney is a non-smoker who has worked on the legal front lines in the battle to regulate tobacco.  In 2006, he was the Green's first candidate for governor to appear on the statewide ballot and won a surprising 10.5% of the popular vote.

  He told reporters after his Civic Federation appearance that taxes on the legalized sale of pot would raise at least $300 million a year for state government and probably much more.

  But the savings, he theorizes, would be several times that much when you consider the effect of decriminalization on overcrowded courts and the extraordinarily expensive Illinois Department of Corrections.

  "During a time of budgetary and economic hardship, it is foolish to deprive ourselves of a potential source of revenue by driving it underground". 

  And Whitney adds, "The gains from legalizing marijuana can be multiplied if we also legalize its close botanical cousin, hemp". (You can't get high smoking hemp but cash crops of the durable weed could be processed for use in manufacturing everything from rope to clothing)

  Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican nominee Senator Bill Brady both oppose decriminalization and quickly dismissed Whitney's proposal during their post-forum news conferences.   Both major party candidates consider pot "dangerous" and cite the social risks of legalizing it.  

  Its interesting that despite the "social risks" involved in slot machines and casinos, both Quinn and Brady have supported legalized gaming at several points during their careers. 

  Whitney, on the other hand, is an outspoken opponent of gambling.  He calls it  "a hidden tax on the poor, ignorant and desperate" and  "not such a bargain after all the social costs are factored in.” 

  The Green candidate has vowed to lead efforts to rollback legalized gambling in Illinois if elected.

  So that's how the Green, Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor answer the "burning question" of whether marijuana should be legalized in Illinois.

  By the way, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) ranks "weed" as the fourth largest cash crop in Illinois behind corn, soybeans and hay but ahead of wheat, apples, oats, potatoes and peaches.

  If you believe NORML, millions of Illinoisans have either grown, bought or used pot despite the fact its against the law...

  ...making this part of the gubernatorial debate more than just smoke.







Jesse, Jr.'s Bravado Backfires

  I've talked to literally dozens of pols during the last 24 hours and virtually every one of them is convinced that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr's widely reported challenge to federal prosecutors to "bring it on" had something to do with the timing of Tuesday's blockbuster "Chicago Sun Times" story.

  The Sun Times scooped the world with its story alleging that political fundraiser Raghuveer Nayak told federal authorities about a October 8, 2008 meeting during which Jackson directed him (Nayak) to approach former Governor Rod Blagojevich with a campaign cash offer in exchange for Jackson's appointment to Barack Obama's soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate Senate. 

  Let's see.  The newspaper had to have confirmed this with Nayak, a subpoenaed and seemingly off-limits-to-reporters witness in the continuing case against Blagojevich or Nayak's attorney.  And you'd think that Nayak or his lawyer had some degree of "comfort" releasing the information given the fact Nayak presumably remains vulnerable to prosecution. 

  Then there's the matter of Jesse, Jr.'s "social acquaintance", Giovanna Huidobro, who attended dinner and a nightcap with the Congressman and Nayak that same day.  And there's Nayak's reported admission to the FBI that he twice purchased for Huidobro roundtrip airplane tickets from Washington, D.C. to Chicago.

  Again.  The Sun Times investigators would have to have confirmed these facts with Nayak or his lawyer, the "other woman" and/or the feds conducting the investigation.

  The FBI and the United State's Attorney's offices have strict rules governing what they can say about ongoing investigations.  Generally speaking, they are not supposed to say anything that has not already been revealed in documents made public by the courts.

  Jesse Jackson, Jr. supporters I talked to at his wife's birthday party Tuesday night are convinced the feds leaked the information, or at the very least "looked the other way" when the Nayak and Huidobro revelations were made to let the Congressman know they have the at-ready means to "bring it on".

  It reminded many of what happened to Rod Blagojevich.  

  Remember how the former governor responded on December 8, 2008 when he was asked about the federal investigation into his affairs:

  "I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me. I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me," Blagojevich said hours before he held a fateful meeting that same day with Congressman Jackson.

  The next morning, before the light of dawn, Blago was arrested and the rest is history.

   The Feds get real antsy at any suggestion that they violate their own rules or play "off-the-record" with reporters, directly or indirectly.

  But there's a growing belief among the politicians that when you challenge "the G" publicly in the Northern District of Illinois...

  ...you're asking for it.





The Other Madigan "Election"

 By all accounts, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is a cinch for re-election. 

  But the State Republican party is convinced it has a chance to take away her father Michael Madigan's title of Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

  Now that more Illinois voters understand who Mr. Madigan is and the awesome power he wields in state government, republicans think the November 2, 2010 election is the time to unseat the Speaker by attacking vulnerable democratic members of the House.

 The G.O.P. is trying to cast Madigan as the ultimate political bad guy.  

  For 19 consecutive elections, the 68 year old state representative has handily won his own legislative district (22nd) on Chicago's southwest side and neighboring surburbs.  He was first elected speaker by house members of his own party in 1983 and has led the chamber's democratic majorities for all but two years (1994-96) when republicans seized control.

  But Madigan's own rise to become chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, the election of his daughter as Attorney General, his intra-party power struggle with Rod Blagojevich (that eventually led to the former governor's impeachment) and his inability to resolve the budget crisis in a state totally controlled by democrats...has made Michael Madigan a household name.   And if you believe republican strategists, it's not a favorable name in Illinois.

  "The only way to remove Mike Madigan as speaker is to not elect Democrat lawmakers," says House Minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) whose 48-member caucus is consistently overwhelmed by the the 70-member democratic majority.

  So Cross is pouring money into the campaigns of 12 republican candidates in districts currently or most recently held by democrats.  There are six targeted districts in the Chicago suburbs and another six downstate.

  If the republicans win all of their targeted seats and hold onto what they now have, it would give the G.O.P. a 60-58 edge in the chamber and Cross would become the Speaker.

  Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the republican math is shaky.  Despite the "anti-incumbent mood" of the electorate, Brown doubted the republicans will come close to winning all 12 contested seats or holding on to every one of their current 48 seats.

   The Speaker-haters might also underestimate the many solid relationships Rep. Madigan has built during all those years in Springfield, especially with organized labor.  I attended a Painters' Union rally on the Southside of Chicago today and the applause and cheers for Madigan during his brief appearance were sincere and heartfelt.

  They obviously trust their livelihoods to Madigan's leadership and they vowed to work against the republicans trying to make him the minority leader.

   As mentioned earlier in this post,  It did happen once before to Madigan in 1994. 

   He just doesn't seem like the kind of guy to take the same fall twice.


Washington's Legacy: Daley's History

  It was at the point in the interview when Mayor Richard M. Daley leaned forward , his head bobbing as he gestured with an index finger to make his point.

  He sounded and looked like a high-def version of his father in one of those 1960's newsreel clips; a sign that Chicago's "boss" for the past 21 years was speaking from the heart.

  Daley was talking about the late Harold Washington and explaining to me that if he had not followed the city's first African-American mayor's lead and embraced racial diversity, he would never have been re-elected five times. 

  On December 26th of this year, Richard M. will surpass his father Richard J. Daley and become the longest-serving and arguably the greatest mayor in Chicago history.

  Rich Daley was the Cook County State's Attorney and about to quit politics when Mayor Washington suddenly died in 1987.  It was at some time between then and the 1989 special mayoral election that Daley--who grew up in racially intolerant Bridgeport--realized that whites were just another minority group in rapidly-changing Chicago and political success could happen only after a candidate like himself built and sustained coalitions.

   Daley told me he was keenly aware that he won the 1989 special election because black voters split between interim Mayor Eugene Sawyer and then-alderman Timothy Evans.   Improving upon his 6-7% showing among black voters became the centerpiece of the newly elected mayor's political mission.

  That's when Richard M. Daley "discovered" Chicago's thriving black business and professional class or what the legendary sociologist E. Franklin Frazier described in 1957 as the Black Bourgeoisie.

  "They have made this city. They are part and parcel of this city.  They didn't just arrive here in the 1950's, they'd been here prior to that!", Daley exclaimed during our one-on-one interview Friday. 

   "People don't realize the millionaires, the middle class, what took place historically in the African-American movement".

  Daley, who has been criticized for a lack of outreach to black "grassroots" activists, embraced and some say co-opted the black business and professional community wherever and whenever he could.

  After the 1999, 2003 and 2007 campaigns, Daley was re-elected by 70% of voters citywide getting substantially more than single-digits among blacks.  And in all five of his re-election campaigns, Daley faced African-American candidates.

  One final note:

  Think for a few minutes about the list of Chicagoans who became players on the world stage who will tell you their careers either began or were "ignited" during the 1980's "Harold Washington" era: 

   President Barack Obama.  Oprah Winfrey.  Michael Jordan.  Mike Ditka. Richard M. Daley.

   It was an era most often identified by racial strife in the city.  But in terms of the larger-than-life people it has produced...

   ...it was a golden age in Chicago history.




The Daley Debate

  There's a moot debate among political wags on whether Mayor Richard M. Daley could have won an unprecedented seventh term had he run for re-election next February .

  Many reporters and pols with whom I've spoken say the Mayor would have prevailed; maybe not by as wide a margin as he won additional terms in the previous five city elections, but they believe he still would have defeated his closest challenger (most likely in a runoff) with a comfortable majority of the vote.

  I'm not so convinced. 

  Not after the poll published by the Chicago SunTimes Friday that concluded that among city voters "65% are happy or indifferent that Daley is calling it quits".

   And what about the mid-July Chicago Tribune survey that suggested Daley's approval rating had sagged to an all-time low 37% and found that a majority (53%) of Chicago voters surveyed did not want the Mayor to run for another term. 

  For Daley or any incumbent, those numbers are awful.

  How  people believe the Mayor would fare in a re-election race depends on where they live to a large extent.   Daley has always and continues to have higher approval ratings outside the city limits.  Suburbanites who throng to Millenium Park, The Magnificent Mile, Wrigley Field and Sears Tower enjoy the most thriving parts of the city and have always had a more positive view of Mayor Daley.  

  But Chicagoans in the neighborhoods--who deal with high property taxes, falling real estate values, unemployment, crime, failing schools, expensive parking meters, tow trucks, red light cameras, asset sales, city hall corruption and more--are fingering the Mayor for problems which have been exascerbated by the nation's economic downturn.

  In a one-on-one interview with Hizzoner, he told me he never paid attention to polls and looked forward to a campaign next year if he had decided to run.  Honestly, I wasn't convinced.

  As for Daley's suburban cheerleaders, they should remember one important thing:

  They aren't allowed to vote in city elections.





Daily Dose of Daley

  Despite all the smoke at Wednesday's city council meeting, expect that most of those aldermen "considering" a run for Mayor to fall by the wayside during the next few weeks.

  Soon after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sweeps into town and scoops up the lion's share of the political money available for next year's city election, the aldermanic wanna-be's will decide that its not worth giving up their seat on the city council for a longshot chance to be the boss.

  Actually, Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) would have fared better in a first-round race against Mayor Richard M. Daley.  That's because Emanuel and Sheriff Tom Dart, two established pols with established money sources, were on the record saying they'd never campaign against the incumbent.  It now appears likely that both Emanuel and Dart will be candidates February 22, 2011.

  Speaking of money, U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush is using his experienced hand to make sure an African-American candidate for mayor is "part of the conversation".   Rush has told black political leaders that the first order of business--even before arriving at a consensus on who that candidate should be--is making sure that he or she is well-funded.  Rush said yesterday he will use his contacts around the country to raise money.

  Incidentally, the conventional wisdom is that it will take $3-5 million dollars to fund a campaign for Mayor of Chicago.

  And what about the impact of Daley's retirement plan on the November 2nd general election?

  I'm told that literally within hours of the announcement,  mayoral hopefuls began hitting on well-known political donors for campaign cash.  So much so that one statewide candidate described for me the experience of being "put on hold" Tuesday afternoon.

  Also, those statewide candidates who bought TV time this week in the Chicago market have got to be wondering if it was worth it.  Certainly, viewership of the newscasts they prefer is up, swelled by the "politically-engaged" viewers they also prefer. 

  But  during the past two days, have Chicago area voters really paid attention to the November 2nd election?

  Or do the ads this week about the general election amount to not much more than political noise?


Secrets, Surprises and Signs Missed

  Even Richard M. Daley had to chuckle Tuesday night. 

  His retirement announcement earlier in the day surprised absolutely everyone at city hall.  That includes all the reporters who cover him on a daily basis and the bureacrats, some of whom have worked two decades for Chicago's Mayor.

  Even Hizzoner was amazed at how well the secret had been kept.  Only his immediate family was aware that Daley would, as the SunTimes put it, "turn the city's political world upside down".

  After giving it a few hours thought, it becomes apparent how the Mayor "leakproofed" his retirement plan until after Labor Day:

   He has stopped talking to people.  Even those in his own government.  Not a word to anyone outside of his immediate family.

   Daley stopped trusting the media years ago.  I don't know of any reporter, print or broadcast" with a "source" inside the Mayor's office.  Daley is one of the few politicians I know who doesn't have any "pets" among the journalists.  He gives all of us the same.  Nothing more on the side.  Nada.

  What's troubling is that he also has a low to non-existent trust level with aldermen and members of his own cabinet.  Like the city hall press corps, they were entirely out of the loop Tuesday.  The Mayor actually told his own bureaucrats about his plan after the public announcement.

   Think some more about it and realize that Daley has done business secretly for years, especially when it comes to his most controversial decisions.

   Remember how he called for quick city council votes without debates on selling city assets (parking meters, etc.)?  How about the decision to destroy Meigs field without telling anyone but the guys ordering the bulldozers?

  A few weeks ago, he announced a plans for a nearly $100 million dollar TIF deal to redevelop the abandoned U.S. Steel plant on the South side.   Alderman Sandi Jackson, in whose 7th Ward the project would happen, heard about it from reporters.

  Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) had only a few hours notice before he was named chairman of the powerful City Council Police and Fire Committee.

  The list of unilateral decisions goes on and on.

   So from whom has Mayor Daley been getting his advice in recent years?  His revolving-door chiefs of staff?  Press secretary Jackie Heard, who after 13 years, is his longest-serving aide?  (Even Ms. Heard seemed surprised by Daley's retirement announcement; she says, though, that she was in the loop along with the Mayor's family)

  In any event, the list of mayoral confidants outside of his family is very, very short.

  Which brings me to the final observation:

  How could a person who has become so politically isolated and perhaps resistant to outside advice run a contested citywide election campaign?

  Yes, it was time.





"Out Of The Woodwork"

  I remember my grandparents using the phrase "coming out of the woodwork" when folks for whatever reason started showing up from every which way.

  We have candidates "coming out of the woodwork" to run for Mayor of Chicago in 2011.

  Richard M. Daley's surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon that he is serving his sixth and final term as mayor is the most profound Chicago political development since hizzoner's first election in 1989. 

  The remainder of this post will be a list of as many possible candidates for Daley's job as I can come up with tonight.  Believe me, by tomorrow, the list will be longer.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

  For the past several weeks, Dart has told any number of folks that if Daley doesn't run, he would seriously consider a campaign.  It doesn't matter that he's up for re-election as Sheriff in November.  The 19th warder will just win that race and run for Mayor a few weeks later.

Alds. Bob Fioretti, Scott Waguespack

  Fioretti (2nd) and Waguespack (32nd) had the guts to say they were considering challenging the incumbent weeks ago.  But now that Daley is out and others are involved, suddenly the first-termers look like also-rans.

Alderman Ed Burke

  The City Council's senior member, finance committee chairman and resident historian has always had this secret desire to be mayor.  With his city-paid driver, security staff, larger-than-anyone-else's staff, he's had plenty of practice with the trappings of the office.  And Burke's actually younger (66) than Daley.   Last Hurrah?

Tom Houlihan

  The outgoing Cook County Assessor.  He needs a job.  Mike Madigan would pull out all the stops to stop Houlihan.

Jesse Jr., Sandi, Jonathan Jackson

  U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is kicking himself again.  He talked about challenging Daley in 2007 and had a nice Southside/Lakefront Liberal coalition in the formative stages.  Then he got ambitious and got himself involved in the Blagojevich mess.  He'll be on the witness list in the second Blago trial at the same time the city election campaign is underway.   Fuggedaboudit.

  Sandi, the congressman's wife and alderman will face a tough re-election battle in her 7th Ward.   Old foe Darcel Beavers is gearing up for a campaign.  Would Sandi risk all to run for Mayor?  I doubt it.

  Jonathan, Junior's younger brother and Northside beer distributor was being recruited to challenge Daley before the mayor's retirement announcement.   Can he galvanize the African-American community which comprises about 40% of the city's vote?

Emil Jones

 The "retired" Illinois Senate President is nearly 75 years old but looking and he says feeling younger.  Operatives from the anti-Jackson camp are putting Jones' name in the mix.

Luis Gutierrez

  The U.S. Congressman has expressed interest in the job as recently as 2006.  Decided to stay in Congress when the democrats took back control that same year.  Would he reconsider running to be Chicago's first Latino mayor?

Rahm Emanuel

  The White House Chief of Staff whom Mayor Daley obviously tipped months ago that he was seriously considering retirement.  Emanuel, the former northside U.S. Congressman said back then that if Daley quit, he would return to Chicago to run for mayor.

  Emanuel is a prolific political fundraiser and conceivably would be the guy with access to Daley's donors.  But the Rahmster should understand that precinct workers in Chicago's 50 wards are a different breed altogether.

  They aren't impressed by that White House stuff. 

Cheryl Jackson

  The former Urban League President who ran and lost a U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year seemingly would have enough name recognition left over to at least test the mayoral waters.  On my list, she would be one of the few female contenders.

Rev. Senator James Meeks

  Only if the state lawmaker with the 20,000 member church promises not to let the campaign interfere with his televised Wednesday night bible study... 

  ...political reporters in the great city of Chicago need their prayers these days.





Not So "Neck and Neck"

  The Chicagotribune.com headline screamed for several hours late Thursday night and early Friday morning that candidates Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk were running "neck and neck" in their race to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.

  Of 600 Illinois voters surveyed during the Tribune/WGN-TV sponsored poll August 28-30, 34% favored democrat Illinois Treasurer Giannoulias and 34% favored republican Congressman Kirk.

  But there's one aspect of the race between the two major party contenders that is nowhere near being a dead heat:


  Kirk has outraised Giannoulias by at least a 4-1 margin and his campaign announced last month that the National Republican Senatorial Committee had set aside an additional $3.4 million for the Northshore Congressman.    The NRSC pledge--larger than expected because the committee also is allowed to donate for the same day "special election"--likely will increase the Kirk-to-Giannoulias fundraising ratio.

  But the democrat's strategists point to the Tribune survey and others by Rasmussen Reports and Public Policy Polling that suggest Kirk's big money advantage has not translated into voter support.

  The Giannoulias campaign spins that "neck and neck" is pretty good for them, after Kirk and his PACs spent $650,000 on television ads this summer compared to just $135,000 by Giannoulias.

  Meanwhile, Kirk spinmeisters say their fundraising advantage is evidence of broadbased support for their candidate, even though a significant portion (NRSC, etc.), if not most of their war chest is sourced out of state.

  Finally, 22% of the voters surveyed by the Tribune were undecided on the race while 6% favored Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones and 3% would choose Libertarian Mike Labno.

  Mike Labno?

  Earlier this week, the Illinois Board of Elections ruled the Libertarians could run a full slate of statewide candidates, including the cut-federal-spending, anti-bailout, state's rights, anti-abortion Labno who instantly polled 3% in the Trib survey.

  How he runs the race might be more important than money in the long run.

  Stay tuned. 







Claypool's Double Standard

  Howizzit that Forrest Claypool and his band of self-described "reformers" can be so critical of minority race elected officials they accuse of corruption while not being nearly as hard on white guys who allegedly do the same stuff?

  Independent candidate for Cook County Assessor Claypool and his supporters fired another barrage of charges at democratic nominee Joe Berrios yesterday.   They accused Berrios, the Cook Democratic Party chairman and the county's most powerful hispanic politician, of being a practitioner of "pay to play" politics. 

  Claypool and his "Lakefront Liberal" posse also described Berrios as "under investigation" by local and federal prosecutors.   They offerred no proof that such probes were underway.

  They pointed to a Chicago Magazine/Better Government Association investigation published this week that said Berrios--a Board of Review commissioner--was in cahoots with Illinois Democratic Party chairman Mike Madigan to fix real estate assessments in favor of large property owners. 

 Madigan, the longtime Speaker of the State House of Representatives, is also a real estate attorney who specializes in tax appeals cases, many of which are considered by Berrios' Board of Review.

  So After Claypool and his squad of "rogue" democrats--who included U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowski--finished their Berrios beatdown, yours truly inquired if they also were asking voters to reject the powerful Madigan's candidacy for re-election in the 22nd Legislative District.

  You could feel the room get larger as a dozen suddenly-squirmy pols all seemed to back away from the podium microphone at the same time.  Schakowsky rambled something about the assessor's race being between Claypool and Berrios (and not Madigan).  Claypool stepped up to insist he's never been shy about criticizing Madigan but even he would not recommend that Southwest Siders vote to retire the man who has represented them in Springfield for the last 39 years.  

  The rest of the rogues kept their pie-holes safely shut.


  This reminded me of how Claypool and many of the same "reformers" went after the late Cook County Board President John Stroger and more recently his son, the current President Todd Stroger .  

  The Strogers, for most of 16 years, have been the highest-ranking African-American elected officials in Cook County.

  I've lost count of how many times that Claypool, as a member of the County Board, has used the word "corrupt" to describe the administrations of both Strogers.

  But during all the years the father and son have held the county's highest office, there have been zero federal indictments for corruption in either of their governments.

   Contrast that record to the dozens of federal convictions of city workers and administration officials during the reign of Mayor Richard M. Daley at Chicago City Hall.

  Have you ever heard Claypool--a former Daley chief of staff and parks superintendent--use the word "corrupt" when talking about his former boss or his own career at city hall?  

  Does the "reformer" know how to pick his fights, or what?

  But the fact that his highest-profile political attacks have been aimed at African-American and Hispanic democrats might not serve him well on November 2nd.

  Black and Latino voters pay attention to that sort of thing.