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.
“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>***
46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman is also running for Democratic Committeeman in the same ward. His committeeman campaign is holding a signature gathering event this weekend. Here’s a note from the campaign, “This Saturday we are meeting up at Dollop Coffee Shop on the corner of Gordon Terrace and Clarendon at 10am to head out from there to collect signatures for my petitions to be your 46th Ward Committeeman. We’ll also be collecting for our fellow Democrats who need to collect signatures to get on the ballot. We’l go out together and come back and get the petitions notarized. If you have petitions and need to turn them in, bring them to Dollop anytime between 10am and 2pm.”
The committeeman races will be decided when Illinois holds its primaries next March.
The Capitol Fax Blog reports that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made an agreement with the Chicago Tribune granting it exclusive coverage of the historic signing of the Illinois Death Penalty Repeal.
“This was a huge, momentous bill, perhaps the most important legislation that Gov. Pat Quinn will ever sign,” the site said in a note to readers today.
The hand-delivered letter to Quinn from the Illinois Statehouse press corps notes “we object strenuously to your decision to single out one particular news organization to witness and photograph the signing.”
As strange as it sounds, this battle between the press corps and the governor about a major newspaper gaining preferred access is important stuff. Imagine if the governor could always pick and choose. Why not choose the friendliest or most ignorant media in the state to report the news of his doings? Of what happens in a court house, the legislature or any of the government units that extend right here into our neighborhood?
The battle between the press and politicians cannot be underestimated by the readership of The Bulldog. We often seek the opinion of elected representatives of our Wards and legislative district and offices for answers. And we have often been frustrated by the contempt we find. We have found it difficult in some cases to get simple questions answered, such as the status of municipal construction projects from our alderman.
In the election which just passed, the 47th Ward witnessed a contest between three men who sought public access and welcomed it and one man who depended on money to purchase the office.
On election day he growled at a photographer for this site, snarling “I don’t read that site.”
Overt hostility to the public, in the guise of the press worries us. We worry about our personal safety and the safety of our investment, including our home, as we put ourselves out there to answer questions on your behalf.
But the battle between the press and the politicians happens in surprising places, too.
Here is a recent discussion between Fox News show host Bill O’Reilly and News Host Chris Wallace about an ongoing feud between former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin and O’Reilly.
Yes, it happens everywhere someone demands an answer and someone else wants to lay it on thick or avoid the question. Even in the Fox echo chamber.
The Bulldog has expressed its anger directly to politicians it perceives as attempting to tilt the field towards a particular local publication by giving it access. That is unfair to you, our readers.
When a politician refuses to answer a question, we can deal with it by noting that fact to you. When a politician attempts to use another local publication to advance their message by acing us out of press releases and press events, that is not acceptable to us. It shouldn’t be acceptable to our competition either.
Here are five examples of being stonewalled encountered in the past year by The Bulldog:
In April of last year The Bulldog asked for records related to Local School Councils for each of the Ravenswood schools. Some schools never replied.
In April of last year The Bulldog asked the Chicago Public Schools to provide a list of candidates for LSC, including enough information to be able to identify the candidates address and other contact information. CPS refused, holding that the state FOIA law required it to refuse to give that information. Without that information we cannot contact LSC candidates except through the control of the principal. We cannot even identify whether Joe Smith, running for the LSC, is the Joe Smith the child molester or Joe Smith the patron saint of children.
The Bulldog has made a series of requests for planning documents related to Clark Park. Although Fran Spielman wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times about a multi-million dollar effort to build a little Wrigley Field west of Lane Stadium, no one, not the alderman, the City Planning Department, the Chicago Park District or the Chicago Public Schools could share any information about the plans for that plot of land. According to all the sources, no plans exist for that plot of vacant land.
The Bulldog has made a number of attempts to gain access to documents related to the city acquisition, for $1.4 million, of a plot of land in Lincoln Square. The efforts of The Bulldog did result in a sudden interest in the city in maintaining the land— they cut the grass. And soon enough work began on the land to develop it into a community garden. However no documents relating to the long-term plan for the land has ever been produced by the Alderman or the city departments contacted.
The Bulldog asked Ald. Eugene Schulter to provide fax records and telephone records. As explained in our story that Schulter’s chosen replacement as Alderman, Tom O’Donnell, was under investigation, Schulter hid behind a technicality in the law to refuse to give up the records. There was enough evidence to indicate, but not outright prove, the ward office used official resources for political purpose in the aldermanic campaign.
There have been other examples too. Salary reports, flooding, pollution, and huge government projects.
Clearly, this has been a challenging year for the politicians who are suddenly under the glare of being visible and for us as we push for answers.
The Bulldog is grateful for the assistance provided to it in the past year by
First, with great humility, the public servants of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. We put them under pressure to help us with an important story and they came through. We are so proud of these public servants who helped us help you.
the Kent School of Law Center for Open Government,
the Online Media Legal Network of Harvard University’s Berkman Center,
Executive Director Terry Norton of Kent,
Jennifer Klear, an attorney who works closely with us through OMLN.
We encourage you, our readers, to follow-up with local politicians who attempt to evade our questions by demanding those politicians answer the questions put to them.
This is Sunshine Week in the United States, a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance to you, the readership, of open and transparent government and the freedom of information. There are broad efforts in this country to limit your ability to know information you need to make informed decisions. It happens right here in Ravenswood and continues all the way up the line to the highest levels of this democracy.
It is your government. Demand answers. Tell politicians FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Open Meetings acts should be strengthened.
Wednesday night the four candidates for Alderman of the 47th Ward were exchanging views in the Coonley gym. The Bulldog sent it’s full crew of cameras to the event and here are some of the best moments of the debate.
47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter (D- North Center) and Ann F Breen-Greco, an administartive law judge, are among 11 persons who have applied to fill the vacancy on the Cook County Board of Review.
Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans posted the list this morning. Applications for the opening were accepted following the resignation of Cook County Democratic Party Chair Joseph Berrios in December. Berrios was elected to be Cook County Assessor in the November 2010 elections.
Schulter, has also filed for reelection to be 47th Ward Alderman in the 2011 municipal election. His spokesman said he wasn’t available Wednesday morning for comment due to meetings.
Schulters’s application notes his endorsement of Harold Washington to be mayor. “I supported Harold Washington because he was the right to choice (sic) to lead Chicago…”
“It is often easier in government to tear down an idea or an individual than it is to work… for a common goal,” Schulter wrote. “My philosophy is simple and straight forward: cooperation, support and trust.”
Schulter went on to note the pride he has in his open door policy: “I have made every effort to include the residents, community and business leaders in weekly dialogue sharing sessions called “Ward Night.” It is an opportunity to personally hear and mediate contentious issues that impact the residents in my ward.”
Schulter noted his leadership in fighting property tax increases. That leadership was recognized by IL Gov. Pat Quinn when he signed an extension of the seven percent property tax cap in the 47th Ward last summer, as reported in The Bulldog.
“My commitment to the Board of Review will mirror my public service philosophy- dedication, integrity and service,” Schulter said.
Breen-Greco (D- St Bens), a resident active in Riverbank Neighbors, noted her experience in administrative law. “For more than twenty years I have been an administrative law judge, a labor/employment arbitrator, and a mediator,” Breen-Greco wrote.
Applicants for the position had to live in the Second Cook County Board of Review District and be a registered Democrat, according to state law. Other applicants for the position:
>Joseph Moreno (D-West Loop) former Cook County Commissioner
Jay Watts (D-Galewood) real estate broker
Richard Edward Martin (D-Logan Square) distribution manager at General Electric
Reanetta Hunt (D-South Loop) owner of Hunt Media & Management public relations
Dennis Michael Fleming (D-Wildwood) administrative law judge
Michael M Cabonargi (D-Logan Square) federal prosecutor for the Securities Exchange Commission
Aaron Richard Bilton (D-East Village) attorney. Has appeared before the Board of Review in appeals
Scott Bagnall (D-Skokie) Niles Township Assessor
Sam Toia (D- East Lakeview) owner of Leona’s Restaurants and Hop Haus Sports Pubs
Adding to the mystery of Schulter’s intentions, Tom O’Donnell, a Schulter operative, filed to run for the aldermanic seat. Schulter faces four opponents, including O’Donnell in the 2011 municipal election:
Matt Reichel (G-Old Ravenswood) a Green Party candidate for the Fifth Congressional District
Ameya Pawar (I-North Center) policy analyst
Tom O’Donnell (D-Ravenswood) assistant to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
Circulators who are not residents of the 47th Ward and sometimes not even citizens of Chicago, are playing a big role in determining who will represent the ward.
An examination of petitions to be listed on the ballot in the 47th Ward indicates one candidate would not be allowed on the ballot if circulators were required to reside in the constituency they are circulating for. Another candidate used substantial labor from outside the ward, leaving questions about who the candidate is beholden to.
Five candidates submitted petitions to be listed on the ballot for 47th Ward alderman in the 2011 municipal elections. Of those, three petitions were challenged.
For the most part, the challenges claim that there are not enough valid signatures on the petitions for the candidates to meet the requirements set forth in election code. According to the Chicago Board of Elections a candidate must have 185 valid signatures to be listed on the 2011 municipal ballot.
One candidate, it was discovered, had an unpaid red-light fine due to the city. Candidates with unpaid fines are not allowed access to the ballot. (The fine and loss of ballot access is currently being argued).
Two candidates have no objections and will be listed on the ballot: Ameya Pawar and Incumbent Ald. Eugene Schulter (D-North Center).
Tom O’Donnell, an aide to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and President of the Ravenswood Community Council is among the three candidates whose petitions are being considered by the Chicago Board of Elections.
O’Donnell’s petition is being singled out as there is a protest regarding O’Donnell circulating petitions for his opponent, Eugene Schulter. However, O’Donnell’s petitions do not prove the same level of broad community support as other candidates from within the Ravenswood community.
O’Donnell’s petition was carried by a number of people who live outside the district: Plainfield, IL for example. Should people with no skin in the game, who live in Plainfield, for example, be able to nominate and circulate petitions for a candidate in from North Center in Chicago?
Before you say no, the name of the circulators is important: Brenda and Edward O’Donnell. Apparently relatives of O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s circulators include Brenda, Edward, Lilly and Mary Beth O’Donnell. Tom O’Donnell, apparently called on his relatives to help circulate petitions. They collected 92 signatures, 15 of which were collected by Lilly who lives in the ward.
Richard Muxfeldt of the North Center neighborhood gathered 45 additional signatures for O’Donnell. Meaning just 60 signatures were collected by ward residents for O’Donnell’s candidacy.
For O’Donnell, here is how it breaks down:
185 signatures needed to run in the 47th Ward
60 signatures collected by residents of the 47th Ward
146 signatures collected by residents of other municipalities * excluding likely relatives
Relatives collected 92 signatures
15 were collected by a ward resident (and are included among the 60 listed above)
27 were collected by a Chicago resident and apparent relative of O’Donnell who lived outside Ward 47
50 were collected by apparent relatives who are not residents of Chicago
380 signatures were collected by other Chicago residents who reside outside the 47th Ward
678 total signatures collected
O’Donnell is not alone in the use of persons outside his district. But alone among 47th Ward aldermanic candidates, O’Donnell would not have met the minimum signature requirement to be listed on the ballot without the use of circulators from outside the ward. Even with what appears to be four relatives assisting his effort, O’Donnell fell short of the minimum level of support required, except for his use of outside circulators.
Schulter gathered more signatures using just residents of the ward than all other candidates combined. However, more than half the signatures submitted were circulated by Chicago citizens living outside the 47th Ward.
22 ward residents gathered 883 signatures
The following circulators, all residents of the ward, gathered an additional 1,008 total signatures
Scott Anamizu 224
James West 180
Joseph Gibbons 148
Catherine Romo 141
Ray Helm 105
William Helm 105
Kevin O’Connell 105
Monica Schulter gathered 99 signatures. Monica Schulter is a resident of the ward
Opponent Tom O’Donnell gathered 62 signatures. O’Donnell is a resident of the ward. O’Donnell submits his own petition to join the ballot
Three circulators who were not citizens of Chicago gathered 104 signatures
Thirteen circulators from outside the ward gathered 1,953 signatures. They are
Donna, John and Steve Bilski 345
Patrick King Kane 284
Martin Casey 225
James Damato 179
Patrick Bordes 149
Peter Katsoulis 142
George Goltsos 135
Michael Teutonico 131
Rosemary McDonnell 128
Dan Luna 127
Joseph Parisi 108
29 other circulators from outside the ward also worked for the campaign, gathering 1,532 signatures
Total signatures 5,641
Jacks circulated his own petitions. He gathered 312 signatures
A Northbrook resident helped Jacks. He gathered 107 signatures
A Chicago resident living outside the 47th Ward was the final circulator for Jacks, that woman gathered 17 signatures
Total 436 signatures
Matt Reichel circulated his own petitions. He gathered 80 signatures
One 47th Ward resident joined Reichel circulating petitions. 260 signatures
Reichel’s mother helped, gathering 30 signatures. Carol Reichel is a Chicago resident but not a resident of the 47th Ward
Three other persons, all Chicago residents assisted. They gathered 119 additional signatures
489 total signatures
Ameya Pawar circulated his own petitions. He gathered 296 signatures
Two other 47th Ward residents joined Pawar. They gathered 48 signatures
Chicago residents from outside the ward numbered 12, gathering 335 signatures
Two circulators were from outside the city. They gathered 19 signatures