John Curry: Candidate for Republican Committeeman in 32

 

Ever since William Hale Thompson, possibly the most corrupt politician in America’s history, ended his term as Mayor of Chicago in 1931, Republicans have become nothing more than an afterthought in the city. As political junkies and insiders prepare for several interesting

Former Chicago Mayor William Thompson

committeeman races among Democrats, including one in 32, the Republican races are largely ignored, or worse mocked.

That’s a view that even long time 32nd Ward Republican Committeeman John Curry agrees with. “The party unfortunately has been run down over a number of years with no money in the bank,” said Curry in an exclusive interview with the Welles Park Bulldog. Curry continued with a hopefuly sign to the future, “I’m very encouraged by the new leadership.”

Curry singled out the relatively new Cook County Republican Chairman, Sig Vaznelas, saying, “He’s worked hard at assembling a new leadership team.” Curry also said a number of new North and Northwest Side Republican Committeemen are injecting the kind of new blood that he believes will carry the party forward. Curry mentioned a number of relatively new committeemen that he’s confident in: Adam Robinson in 48, Dave Ratowitz in 47, Scott Davis in 44, Jason Cordova in 45, and Chris Cleveland in 43.  He called all these folks, “the nucleus of new Republican party going forward.”

Curry named three main responsibilities for any committeeman: getting out the vote, reach out to people to expand the part, and appointing election judges. The third is of extra importance with the notorious history of Chicago because election judges are, “the first line of the defense against vote fraud,” says Curry.

Curry says that the traditional source of power for committeemen is patronage. “In the past, patronage has been the fuel of a committeeman.” Of course, if you are a Republican committeeman, there’s not much patronage as Republicans control almost nothing in the city. “That’s a good thing,” says Curry because it gives the party an opportunity to grow without getting involved in the practice that has corrupted much of the state.

For Curry, he says five broad goals for the Republicans going forward: improved city wide leadership, development of the party as a reliable institution, an organization that is able to raise funds, one that is respected by the media, and one that can recruit good candidates.

While those goals are worthwhile, lately the only time anyone is talking about the Republicans in Chicago it was for all the wrong reasons. Last summer, a scandal exploded as Chicago Republican Party Chairwoman, Eloise Gerson, accused then Cook County Republican Party employee Jeremy Rose of a sexual assault. She also accused then Cook County Republican Party Chairman, Lee Roupas, of covering up for Rose. The incident in question occurred a year prior and it happened after a party held by the Chicago Young Republicans, of which Rose was President. According to Rose, the incident was investigated and settled internally by the CYR’s and no one was covering up anything. His supporters accused Gerson and her allies of ginning this up in perverted attempted to wrestle control of the party. Gerson and her allies accused their opponents of protecting Rose and also accused many, Curry included, of secretly being Democrats.

“The incident is in the past,” Curry said, “but the blowback has not.” Curry said that the Chicago Republican Party has not held a meeting since the Summer of 2010 and fundraising has been zero. “There were no winners,” he continued, “scome of the dvisive people are on the ballot. I don’t see these people as a positive force for the party.”

In fact, Curry’s opponent, Steve Boulton, was one of those that sided with Gerson and accused Curry and others of secretly being Democrats and protecting Rose against legitimate accusations. Curry refused to speculate on why Boulton is challenging him, “I don’t know what his interest is in this race,” but continuing, “he filed to run in the last day.”

Curry has repeatedly dismissed any accusation that he is sympathetic to Democrats, saying that a couple times he supported Democrats in races where no Republican was running and continuing, “I’ve been involved in Republican politics since the 1970′s.” Curry points out that the 32nd Ward is regularly in the top ten of the fifty wards in terms of Republican turnout.

While Curry believes that such scurrilous accusations only contribute to the divisiveness that he believes is counter productive and hurts the party, he’s not the only one that will face accusations of being a secret Democrat during this campaign. Catherina Wojtowicz, a Tea Party organizer and candidate for Committeeman in 19, is leveling a similar charge against her Republican opponent, Jim Parrilli. In a recent email to supporters, Wojtowicz said this, “One such committeeman is 19th ward GOP Committeeman Jim Parrilli, friend and financial contributor to some of the biggest names in the Cook County Democratic Party!  The GOP committeeman to one of the biggest republican enclaves in the city is a democrat bank roller.  Awesome, huh?”

Republican insiders believe that if only 23% of the City of Chicago went Republican, then the state would turn Red. Curry thinks that is very doable, “I think that’s very doable. Not in one cycle,” continuing, “If the party were to deploy people to do target outreach.”

Welles Park Bulldog is currently working with Curry’s opponent, Steve Boulton, to set up an interview and hopes to bring you that soon.

Preckwinkle Endorses Fritchey for Committeeman in 32

It looks like Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey has received a coveted endorsement in his race for 32nd Ward Committeeman against 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack. That endorsement comes from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The Chicago News Cooperative broke the story. “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle endorsed incumbent John Fritchey for 32nd Ward Democratic committeeman Friday in one of the more heated races in the March primary election.

“Preckwinkle picked Fritchey, a Cook County commissioner and former state representative, over Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), her former City Council colleague, in what she called ‘a hard decision.’”

All Committeemen races will be decided next March. Committeemen are responsible for getting out the vote in their wards for their party.

 

Force Tryouts

The Chicago Force, the women’s professional football team in Chicago, will be holding more open tryouts. The next round of tryouts will be held on Saturday December 17th at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Avenue in Evanston. The tryouts will go from 1-3PM but participants are asked to come by 12:45PM.

The Force went undefeated during their regular season in 2011 and missed a shot at playing in their version of the Super Bowl when they lost in the last minutes to Boston in the semi finals. The Force feature arguably the best female football player in the world in Jessica Springer at running back and Sami Grisafe at quarterback and run a sophisticated spread offense.

 

Here’s Sami Grisafe showing off her talent, singing.

 

Sheriff’s Office Mum on Prior Spokesperson’s Controversial Statements

The Cook County Sheriff’s department refused repeated attempts by the Welles Park Bulldog to confirm or deny several very provocative comments by Steve Patterson, who was the official spokesperson for the department until November 2011. Patterson made it clear that the Sheriff’s Department did NOT support a very controversial ordinance passed by the Cook County board ending its cooperation with ICE detainer program. Patterson also claimed that the costs cited in the ordinance are significantly inflated. The Cook County Board cited a cost of $15 million yearly as a reason for no longer cooperating with ICE. Patterson said the true cost was $250-500,000. He also said the Sheriff’s Department stopped cooperating with those crafting the ordinance, namely Jesus Garcia and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, when those two made it clear that the ordinance would be far more sweeping than Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office wanted.

The Sheriff’s Department has declined to respond confirming or denying several statements by Patterson including, “During our initial conversations with county officials about it, we suggested they look to San Francisco for a basis, have public hearings, take detainers on a case-by-case basis, etc. When they refused to do any of those, we were no longer involved in discussions,” and, “The fact that you have local governments interpreting and enforcing federal policy differently all across the country is pretty frightening. It’s pretty insane that federal policy and whether you get deported could be decided by which side of Lake-Cook Road you get pulled over right now,” and finally, “When they wanted a more sweeping ordinance that would let everybody go free no matter what their criminal charge was, we just backed away from the conversation.”

The Sheriff’s Department refused repeated attempts for comments on these comments by Patterson, who left the office in November, even though its current spokesperson, Frank Bilecki, was very helpful and responded to numerous local and national media when it was revealed that Sharon Bialek was being evicted. The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for serving any eviction notices and Bialek lives in Cook County.

Back in June, Dart sat down with an interview with Chip Mitchell of WBEZ that seemed to start the ball rolling on this ordinance when he told Mitchell he was reconsidering cooperating with ICE on detainers. In the piece, Sheriff Michael Hennessy was mentioned. That’s because back in May, Hennessy decided that its office would not cooperate with ICE detainers in the case of non-violent offenders like those picked up for traffic violations and possession of small amounts of drugs.

The difference between the action of Hennessy and the Cook County Board was in the case of San Francisco County the Sheriff gave himself discretion about which detainers to comply with. The Sheriff chose not to comply with those of non- violent offenders especially those picked up for traffic offenses. As such, Peter Kramer, Chief Legal Counsel for the Sheriff’s Office, simply said this at the Board meeting prior to the passage of the ordinance, “If the ordinance passes, and the state’s attorney says it’s a valid exercise of your budgetary authority, we will enforce it,”

That’s of course something the Sheriff’s office would say of any ordinance, a point not lost on Commissioner John Fritchey, of Chicago’s Northwest Side, who responded, “Your initial statement has me somewhat perplexed,” continuing, “that’s going to be your position on anything this board passes.”

Kramer wasn’t the only person in the Sheriff’s office to offer statements skeptical of the ordinance. Former Dart spokesperson Steve Patterson told the  Welles Park Bulldog, “During our initial conversations with county officials about it, we suggested they look to San Francisco for a basis, have public hearings, take detainers on a case-by-case basis, etc. When they refused to do any of those, we were no longer involved in discussions.”

This wasn’t the only provocative statement made by Patterson.  He once told the Daily Herald, “The fact that you have local governments interpreting and enforcing federal policy differently all across the country is pretty frightening,” Patterson said. “It’s pretty insane that federal policy and whether you get deported could be decided by which side of Lake-Cook Road you get pulled over right now.” He told the AP, “When they wanted a more sweeping ordinance that would let everybody go free no matter what their criminal charge was, we just backed away from the conversation.”

Worse yet, Patterson told multiple news outlets that the cost of holding detainers is not $15 million yearly to the County but somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.

Those are assertions that have no basis in fact, say proponents of the ordinance. Viviana Martinez, Chief of Staff to Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, said that the $15 million figure came from the Sheriff’s office. Meanwhile, both Garcia’s office and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle say that representatives of the Sheriff’s office were involved every step of the way in crafting the ordinance.

Garcia staffer Alvaro Obregon, responded in the Welles Park Bulldog to Patterson’s assertion, “that’s factually inaccurate,”

Following a recent Cook County Board meeting Preckwinkle sternly said, “The Cook County Sheriff’s office was in the room the entire time this ordinance was crafted.”

Without a response, it’s impossible to know if the entire County Board is lying or if the Sheriff’s Department had a rogue spokesperson that was allowed for weeks to make false and misleading comments with no action taken. Both have significant consequences especially since this ordinance has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster since the moment it was passed, and even before then.

Before it was passed, the Sheriff’s Department surprised the County Board when the office refused to back the ordinance when it came up for debate in front of the Cook County Board.

When Peter Kramer, Chief General Counsel for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, spoke in front of the Cook County Board on September 7th regarding the controversial ordinance that the board would pass refused to offer an opinion. “If the ordinance passes, and the state’s attorney says it’s a valid exercise of your budgetary authority, we will enforce it,” said Kramer.

A stunned John Fritchey, a Cook County Commissioner from the Northwest Side of Chicago responded by pointing out the obvious, “Your initial statement has me somewhat perplexed,” continuing, “that’s going to be your position on anything this board passes.”

From there, Joan Murphy claimed that felons wouldn’t be let, only to have the Sun Times embarrass her the very next day by highlighting the case of Eduardo Sanchez, a very mean looking criminal felon who was released because of the ordinance.

mug shot of Eduardo Sanchez

That was followed by a story in the Northwest Suburbs, broken by the Daily Herald, which highlighted three other criminal illegal aliens who beat up a cop that were let go. From there, there was a number of finger pointing as the ordinance became a toxic public relations nightmare for all involved.  Now, the Sheriff’s Department can’t confirm statements made by a former employee.

 

Sniping Continues Between Fritchey and Waguespack

Examiner is reporting of new sniping between John Fritchey and Scott Waguespack. Both are competing for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman. Waguespack is the incumbent Alderman in the ward while Fritchey is the incumbent Democratic Committeeman, along with <A NAME=”redirect”>Ravenswood 12th District </A>Cook County Commissioner.

According to the report, Fritchey recently criticized Waguespack for going along with the budget of new mayor Rahm Emanuel because that budget included the closure of the local police station, the 13th District at 937 N. Wood St.

A movement has already started to try and save the police station. According to the site, “We are fortunate to be part of a vibrant and improving  neighborhood, but we border areas of the city which are dangerous.  Drive by shootings, muggings, rapes,  burglaries and graffiti is all around.

“This Station services a large area of the city.  Closing this station will lead to a decay of  our community, our property values and safety. The physical structure and  strong police presence of Police in our neighborhood has been a beacon of  safety to our neighborhoods.”

The Democratic Committeeman in the 32nd Ward is a very lucrative and powerful position. Responsible for getting out Democratic voters, the 32nd Ward has traditionally been home to a ripe number of potential Democratic voters.

*** Updated 11/29/2011 @ 12.50P. A clarification: Commissioner Fritchey represents the 12th Cook County District. The district includes substantial areas outside of Ravenswood on the North Side. Maps of the districts can be found on line. Click here to <A HREF=”#redirect”>read the new sentence.</A>***

Cappleman To Hold Master Plan Town Hall Event

For months, 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman has been taking suggestions, working out plans, and releasing details of his ward master plan. He’s released this master plan in sections: sanitations, police, education, TIF’s, economic development, etc.

Now, in an email to constituents, Cappleman says, “This master plan will be used as a guide to the Zoning & Development Committee and to me as decisions are made about development in the 46th Ward Office.”

With that in mind, Cappleman will hold a town hall December 5 at 7:30 pm at Temple Sholom,  3480 North Lake Shore Drive. Welles Park Bulldog will be there to cover the event. Here’s a link to the entire plan.

 

Waguespack Makes it Official

Multiple media are reporting that Scott Waguespack officially announced his run for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman where he’ll face another heavyweight in Ravenswood Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey.

The election is next March 20 and Welles Park Bulldog will provide extensive coverage of all local committeemen races.

Gainer Proposes Divestment from Iran in County Pension Funds

North Side Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer introduced a resolution at the Cook County Board Meeting yesterday that would divest the Cook County pension fund of any investment with any company that also does business with Iran.

According to the legislation, the resolution states, “The Cook County Board of Commissioners calls upon the Cook County Annuity and Benefit fund to fully divest from the companies within the Fund who have exposure to Iran and block the future purchase of any further shares in the companies that would create exposure to Iran.”

Current United States law already makes investment in Iran very restrictive. According to the web site Payvand, here’s how current law applies, “U.S. sanctions against Iran are very strict and comprehensive.  Most day to day activities are subject to the regulation of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is tasked with enforcing the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), a body of regulations governing the trade in goods, services, and technology between the United States and Iran.  The ITR is very comprehensive – it addresses commercial, personal, charitable, and other activities.”

Current law doesn’t stop investment from foreign companies, or foreign subsidiaries, that also invest in Iran. Gainer’s resolution follows on the heels of several US Senators including Mark Kirk of Illinois introducing similar legislation on the national level.

This resolution is non binding and couldn’t have effect of law. That’s because the Cook County pension fund has its own separate and independent board. Its broad investment decision are made by that board. According to the resolution, the resolution is also largely symbolic. The Cook County pension fund currently only has  .16% of the entire portfolio in companies that invest in Iran.

The Cook County pension fund has recently come under scrutiny. This summer it was revealed that the fund has $5 billion in unfunded liabilities and current assets only pay for 60% of future liabilities. Another report said the fund would run out of money entirely in 2038. All government pensions in the State of Illinois are under the perview of the State government and legislation continues making its way to reform the pension system in the entire state.

Gainer chairs the Pension Sub Committee on the Cook County Board.

Force Tryouts

Tryouts for the Women’s Professional Football team the Chicago Force will be held this and next month.

The next open tryout will be held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. It will be held on November 17th, 2011. It will be held from 3-6PM though those trying out are instructed to arrive by 2:45PM to sign up. It will be held at the main gym 901 West Roosevelt. Ladies are reminded that the tryout fee is $20 and there will be a meet and greet afterwards with the team at Morgan’s Bar and Grill at 1325 South Halsted.

Tryouts are limited to those seventeen years and older. For more information, call 312-405-4130.