Isaac "Ike" Carothers Indicted, Mayor Daley skates away!
We all knew Isaac "Ike" Carothers is no different than any other Chicago Alderman when it comes to corruption, shakedowns, and hustling money. When you have a Mayor like Richard Daley, you expect corruption. Alderman Carothers has a ward that is filthy and dirty. We have Alderman that only worry about the next meal, paid for contractors and those wishing favors as the poor suffer. Chicago is a true disgrace nationally and locally. Chicago Alderman know Daley encourages this, is part of this, and President Barack Obama has profited by this system. George Bush and now Barack Obama allow the poor to be exploited by criminal public officials. The United States of America is owned by China because we allowed our politicians to steal from us. Call your Illinois State Representatives and tell them you want reform. While the country crumbles, those in power continue to rob from the neediest. Ike could have spent his energy cleaning up his (29th) ward. The Laborer's Union was involved with property on the site that would benefit training and safety for workers. More on the story later. It is amazing how the blacks get the ointment and the white skate away. Photo edited by Patrick McDonough
Russ Stewart reviews Alderman Banks and John Rice 36th Ward Video
36TH WARD "CINDERELLA":
FROM DRIVER TO ALDERMAN
ANALYSIS & OPINION BY RUSS STEWART
It's a "Cinderella Story" - driver to driven. It could only happen in America. Or, I mean, only in Chicago. Or, I mean, only in the 36th Ward.
John Rice is Alderman Bill Banks' (36th) driver and bodyguard, although he's officially listed on the payroll as Banks' "chief-of-staff." And now he's going to be Banks' successor as alderman.
It's the stuff of Hollywood. It's got movie potential. It's got "success" written all over it: The Driver goes to City Hall, and gets his own Driver...and his own bodyguard.
Parents can tell their kids: Forget the cramming. Who needs college? Forget the lawbooks. Be a good driver, memorize the Rules of the Road, and not only will you get an insurance discount, but you might grow up and become a Chicago alderman.
Banks, alderman since 1983, and Democratic committeeman since 1981, has announced his intention to retire from the city council by the end of 2009. That's precipitated a seismic reaction in City Hall, prompting a plethora of aldermen to begin angling for the chairmanship of the powerful Zoning Committee, a post held by Banks for 20 years.
The early favorite is Pat O'Connor (40th), also an alderman since 1983, and current Education Committee chairman. From O'Connor's perspective, grabbing the Zoning chairmanship could be a prelude to a mayoral run. And, unlike his failed, under-funded 2009 congressional bid, O'Connor would then be in a position to emulate Banks, and raise mega-bucks.
According to the latest campaign disclosures, the three committees controlled by Banks - Committee to Elect Banks, Friends of Bill Banks, and the 36th Ward Democratic Organization - had a Jan. 1 cash-on-hand of $837,349. In the two previous calendar years (2007 and 2008), those committees raised $302,371.
Here's a multiple choice question: Did Banks raise that kind of dough because:
(a) He's just a swell, sweet and wonderful guy, a family man, and has a dog? (b) He's able, as zoning chairman, to dictate committee approval of zoning variances and expeditiously get council ratification, much to the delight of developers, who reap mega-profits and then buy gazillions of tickets - along with their zoning attorneys -- to Banks' fundraisers? (c) He's just the beneficent, inadvertent object of everybody's gratitude? Or (d) he gives donors discounted tickets to Great America?
If you answered (a) or (c), you just flunked your UCPT - Understanding Chicago Politics Test - and probably believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and clout-free democracy in the Windy City. If you answered (d), you may want to seriously address your drug dependency.
No "Battle for the Succession" is raging, however, in the northwest side 36th Ward (Galewood, Montclare, and the Cumberland Corridor), where Rice is primed to be his boss' successor - at least until the end of Banks' current term in 2011. The mayor appoints new aldermen to fill vacancies, but there is no doubt that Rich Daley will ratify Banks' choice.
Rumors were once rife that the alderman was poised to emulate so many other Chicago "family business" politicians, and facilitate the appointment and election of son Joseph, a third-year law student, as alderman. But, quite astutely, Banks understands that the 36th Ward Democrats are a political powerhouse, flush with precinct workers and money, only because he is the city's "Zoning Czar." Once he's gone, his ward's "clout" evaporates. Banks can make his son alderman, and remain committeeman to protect him, but Joe would be a junior and inconsequential council member, and the spigot of contributions from developers would be a dribble, not a torrent.
So Banks, who once aspired to be county assessor, will deftly move into the private sector, and join the "land use" (a euphemism for zoning) law practice of his brother, Sam Banks, and nephew, James Banks, along with his son. He'll be the de rigueur lawyer for every get-it-done-now developer in Chicago and the suburbs.
Banks denied that his imminent departure was precipitated by the ongoing federal Operation Crooked Code investigation, which has focused on alleged bribery by developers of city inspectors in the zoning and building departments; fifteen arrests have been made and, according to press reports, some of those indicted were members of the 36th Ward Democratic Organization or clients of his nephew.
Over the past few years, the Banks Clan has gotten some very negative exposure. Banks' committee handles roughly 1,000 zoning variances annually. During 2004-05, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, nephew James handled 32 36th Ward zoning variances before his uncle's committee, and won 29. In addition to being a zoning lawyer, James Banks is also a realtor, developer and banker. The alderman recuses himself from any committee vote on cases brought by his nephew.
Another Sun-Times expose, in 2008, detailed how the Belmont Bank & Trust, founded in 2006 by James Banks and located in the 36th Ward, was his own veritable piggybank, with a third of the $155 million in mortgage loans made to James Banks' family, friends and clients, including $12.2 million to his sometime developer partner.
Ald. Banks has been quoted as saying that "it is time" to retire. Firefighter Nick Sposato, who ran against Banks in 2007 and got a paltry 23.8 percent, vociferously concurs. "He (Banks) is an oppressive force. He tries to bully and control everybody and everything. Now," added Sposato, who intends to run again in 2011, "we have the opportunity (in the 36th Ward) to elect an alderman who will serve the people, not the developers. I won't be running against the Million Dollar Man."
According to Sposato, Banks can field up to five workers in each of the ward's 55 precincts, 250 workers on Election Day to get out the vote, and pay for five of six mailings into every ward household. If Banks retires, "those days are over," said Sposato. "It will be a level playing field" in 2011. "Rice is not Banks, and anybody could win."
Hugely impacted by a Banks retirement would be his close ally, State Senator Jim DeLeo (D-10), who is up for re-election in 2010. As of Jan. 1, DeLeo, an assistant Democratic majority leader, had $658,549 in his campaign account. But DeLeo, one of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich's key Illinois Senate allies, was passed over for chamber president, a job won by another Chicagoan, John Cullerton.
With legislative service stretching back to 1985, DeLeo, age 57, could retire with maximum pension, and become a highly-paid lobbyist. DeLeo reportedly owns interests in various Rush Street restaurants and, with his associations, could become Illinois' premier "entertainment industry" lobbyist. Hotels and eateries would be as eager to put him on retainer as developers would be to snare Bill Banks.
But count on this: DeLeo won't quit unless he can hand off the job to another 36th Warder - and that will be either ward sanitation superintendent John Donovan Jr. or assistant city zoning administrator Mike Tinerella. Former Harwood Heights Mayor Peggy Fuller is gearing up to challenge DeLeo in the Feb. 2, 2010 primary. But she has neither money nor organization, and she retired after one failed term as mayor. In a primary, DeLeo would demolish her; he'd win with 65 percent.
So here's what will likely happen: DeLeo will resign his seat and senate nomination in April or May of 2010, and the 10th District's Democratic committeemen, dominated by Bill Banks, will choose Donovan or Tinerella as his ballot replacement and as the new senator. Since Banks and DeLeo have an unwritten "non-aggression pact" with the 41st Ward Republicans - Alderman Brian Doherty and State Representative Mike McAuliffe (R-20) - in the north end of the 10th District, there won't be a Republican state senate candidate. So Donovan or Tinerella will then waltz into the seat unopposed.
As for the zoning committee chairmanship, black Alderman Ike Carothers (29th), the current chairman of the Police and Fire committee, has evidenced interest. His council service, however, only dates to 1999. The most senior black is Alderman Ed Smith (28th), first elected in 1983. If Smith used his seniority card to checkmate O'Connor, then another white alderman with longer service, such as Dick Mell (33rd) or Gene Schulter (47th), both elected in 1975, could opt to take that plum.
If O'Connor succeeds Banks, and if O'Connor uses the post to build a $1 million campaign warchest, then O'Connor will be well-positioned to run for mayor when Daley retires.
Being a "chief of staff" seems to be in vogue. Rahm Emanuel gave up his congressional seat to be President Barack Obama's chief-of-staff.
Here's a final multiple-choice question. Emanuel's White House job description does not include one of the following: (a) Advising the president; (b) determining who talks with or sees the president; or (c) driving Obama around.
E-mail Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at www.russstewart.com.
Why Chicago Clout does what it does! Thank you note!
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Over a century ago, our Union forebearers bound together to fight for better wages, working conditions, and to have a voice on the job. Today Chicago Clout serves in the finest tradition of those who have went before us, encouraging workers to speak out, and to be free from fear and retaliation in the workplace."
Russ Stewart talks about Republican Irrelevance Video May 20, 2009
COUNTRY'S LIBERAL SHIFT
ANALYSIS & OPINION BY RUSS STEWART
Should the Republican Party become part of TARP - the federal Troubled Asset Recovery Program? As of now, being a Republican is a liability, not an asset.
In Illinois, where corruption is epidemic and a major income tax hike is imminent, Republicans are as yet unable to exploit and capitalize on the sordid situation. Democrats control all the levers of state, Cook County and Chicago government. A recent Rasmussen poll indicated that 64 percent of respondents blamed "politicians" in general for "corruption," but none specifically. There may be a developing anti-incumbent trend, but not necessarily an anti-Democratic trend - and definitely not a pro-Republican trend.
"Change we need" was Barack Obama's national mantra in 2008. That may materialize in Illinois in 2010, but won't benefit Republicans. Here's why:
First, in the past year, America has lurched significantly to the left. Over the past three centuries, since monarchies faded, it is accurate to say that, ideologically, the liberal philosophy has grown increasingly more liberal, and the conservatives' increasingly less conservative. There is a constant ebb and flow: A decade or more of liberalism, meaning an expansion of governmental power, countered by a couple of decades of conservative retrenchment, and then another liberal spurt, and more government growth. There is never a rollback to a previous era.
America has always been a center-right country, more pronounced since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980: it's been basically conservative, capitalistic, and encouraging of entrepreneurs and wealth accumulation. No longer. Like much of Europe, America is now a center-left country, and government is viewed as the "solution," the so-called "safety net," and not the "problem" articulated by the Reagan Republicans.
Second, the recent economic collapse has precipitated the evaporation of trillions of dollars of personal and institutional wealth, in investments and in real estate. Baby-boomers and others, who have spent thirty or forty years accumulating a nest egg of a million dollars or more to support them in retirement, have seen that effort come to naught. IRA's and 401(k)'s have lost half their value; real estate values have plummeted by a third or more; houses can't be sold. There is economic stagnation and personal paralysis.
No amount of immediate effort can recover that lost wealth. The "greed is good" philosophy that motivated entrepreneurs is now inoperative.
Of course, the housing market may recover within the next five or six years, and the stock market may reach 2007 levels again by 2012 or 2013. But, in the interim, the prevailing philosophy is "government is good." Government subsidies and payouts, be they bailouts to employers or banks, extended unemployment, or social security, are the new "wealth." The enduring Republican philosophy of less government has no current relevance.
Third, social issues don't matter. In tough economic times, voters care only about Number One, and their family. Abortion, gay rights, gay marriage, gun control, or who sits on the Supreme Court are irrelevant matters.
Fourth, Republicans took a calculated risk in opposing President Obama's recovery program, which includes a $3.5 trillion budget, $210 billion in tax hikes over the next decade, a $1.2 trillion deficit in 2010, bailouts of banks and auto manufacturers, and the $787 billion "economic stimulus package." Obama ran for president to restore peace, but now he is compelled to restore prosperity. Yet the debate is not about how much is being spent, but instead about how soon it will be spent.
Quite simply, the Republicans' success depends on Obama's failure. Gas prices, mortgage foreclosures and unemployment (8.9 percent) are up. But there are inklings that the worst is over: Jobless claims are declining; job losses - 5.7 million since December 2007 - were 539,000 in April, less than March's 699,000; the "bear" market seems to have bottomed out at 8,400, and is actually up during 2009; consumer spending has spurted, but not by much.
Economically, the Republicans are in a no-win position. If the economy continues to tank, the majority of voters will demand further bailouts and spending, not less. What can Republicans propose? Do less? Do nothing? If the economy rebounds, Obama will get the credit, and Republicans will be dismissed as opportunistic and stupid.
Fifth, Obama's administration is perceived as being "centrist," not excessively liberal, because the country has moved leftward. Obama has not solved the Afghanistan and Iraq situations, and supported additional war funding; he did loosen stem cell research funding restrictions and proposed a mammoth, expensive health care expansion. On the environment, he asked for $42 billion in energy-renewable projects. Obama's upcoming U.S. Supreme Court pick, if not an ardent abortion supporter, could infuriate that faction.
In some liberal circles, Obama's Administration is already being castigated as the "New Republicans," due to his lack of stridency on certain issues. They want to fight "global warming"; get out of Iraq and Afghanistan now. By 2012, the most vituperative Obama criticism may be coming from the left. And that, just possibly, could portend a serious political realignment.
Congressional Democrats are more liberal than Obama. The "Green Party" has been attracting support for a decade. If Republicans lack a coherent message, then future political campaigns may revolve around those advocating spending-and-taxing more and those seeking spending-and-taxing much more. Obama's stance will be the conservative stance. A leftist third party could soon emerge.
And sixth, me-too Republicanism may be resurgent. The country lurched to the left after Franklin Roosevelt (D) demolished Herbert Hoover (R) in 1932, with voters blaming Republicans for the Great Depression. Laissez faire, unregulated capitalism was thereafter harnessed by a plethora of federal regulative agencies, none of which has ever been abolished. For the next 40 years, until Barry Goldwater's ascent in 1964, the Republicans were the "me-too" party - proclaiming support for Roosevelt's New Deal government expansion, but promising to manage it better and more economically. They did not have the temerity to promise to abolish it.
The current congressional Republican leadership is not much different from their anti-government predecessors in the 1930s. In four Depression-era elections --1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936 -- Republicans lost 170 U.S. House seats and 35 U.S. Senate seats, reducing their number to an irrelevant 17 senators and 89 representatives in 1937. Since 2004, Republicans have lost 54 House seats and 15 senate seats.
How much lower can they go? Republicans view 2010 as another 1994, when they picked up 53 House and eight Senate seats on a wave of anti-Clinton revulsion. But if voters continue to blame Bush for the recession/depression, then it could be a replication of 1934, when still-angry anti-Hoover voters ousted 12 Republican senators and nine congressmen, even while a Democrat was in the White House.
Normally, in mid-term, disgruntled voters opt for the opposition, so as to rein in the excesses of the incumbent president. But that is not the developing situation. There is no perception of Obama "excesses" or stupidity. Democrats could gain seats in 2010.
Which brings us to Illinois: A Democratic governor has been impeached, and exposed as chronically corrupt. An appointed Democratic senator is accused of perjury. The Democratic Cook County board president is a dunce. The county board wants to cut the sales tax by one cent, which Todd Stroger has pledged to veto.
New Governor Pat Quinn wants to increase the state's income tax to 4.5 percent on individuals, hike employee pension contributions, triple the $2,000 personal exemption - and fund a $9 billion capital construction plan, while enacting ethics' reform. At present, the state's budgetary shortfall could be as high as $12.4 billion for fiscal 2010-2011.
Where is the hue and cry? Why aren't voters enraged? Perhaps they see the taxes coming from somebody else, not them.
The 2010 Republican statewide field contains some credible names, but none are awe-inspiring: U.S. Representative Mark Kirk (R-10), state Senators Bill Brady and Matt Murphy, DuPage County board chairman Bob Shillerstrom and state's attorney Joe Birkett, or businessman Ron Gidwitz.. Their first problem is positioning: Do they run as "reformers," hammering corruption? Do they run against "higher taxes," aware that those taxes are necessary to pay the state's bills?
Their second problem is party label. Do voters really care about checks-and-balances? And if Stroger, or Roland Burris, or Quinn is ousted in a Democratic primary, then why vote for a Republican? There are just too many habitual Democrats in Illinois.
In the 2006 election, the Green Party got 10.4 percent of the vote for governor. That could balloon to 20 percent in 2010. And if the Republican vote, despite all the Democratic corruption, sinks to under 40 percent, and Democrats sweep every office, it will be the beginning of the end of the Republican party in Illinois.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at wwwe.russstewart.com.
What do Alderman Banks, Beny Garneata, and Mario Olivella have in common?
I think they made a famous Plumbing Inspector very mad! Michael McGann, Victor Crown and Patrick McDonough enjoyed the headline by Natasha Korecki exposing more corruption involving bribes for Chicago Plumbing Inspectors. I think Mayor Daley and Chicago Journeyman's Local 130 Union should be very nervous, scared even! I know why they did not allow me to be a Plumbing Inspector in Chicago, I don't take bribes! Nice job Chicago Inspector General! Patrick McDonough
Chicago developer pleads guilty in bribe scheme
Garneata admits being a go-between for permits
May 14, 2009
BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter / email@example.com
A Chicago developer and political campaign contributor pleaded guilty today in federal court to acting as a go-between in a bribe-for-permits scheme.
Beny Garneata, a Lincolnwood resident, admitted that, in December 2007, he acted as a go-between to pass on a bribe to a city plumbing inspector while pocketing some of the cash.
Garneata was charged with passing a $7,000 bribe to the inspector, Mario Olivella, who was also charged in the scheme.
Garneata is a onetime client of lobbyist James Banks, a powerful Chicago zoning lawyer whose uncle, Ald. William Banks, heads the City Council's Zoning Committee.
Garneata and his companies have made $23,000 in campaign contributions since 1999, including $5,600 to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and $4,000 to the 36th Ward Democratic Organization run by Banks.
He was among more than a dozen defendants charged in a 2008 crackdown on bribes tied to Chicago City Hall.
Federal authorities said the bribes were meant to speed, or fake, city building and zoning inspections.
Garneata is to be sentenced Aug. 13.
Mayor Daley forgot to push for ethics reform for Illinois Taxpayers
Make sure you read our prior post on Mayor Daley when he also forgot to list his free trips on his ethics statements. Please read Fran Spielman's take on Daley's tricks. Read the extend entry. Mayor Daley must be under too much stress lately. But not as much stress as lawyer from the water department, an ARDC complaint filed was today. Patrick McDonough
Daley pushes Springfield agenda lacking ethics reform
May 14, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Flanked by a cast of thousands, Mayor Daley turned up the heat today on the Illinois General Assembly to approve his Springfield agenda with one conspicuous omission: ethics reform.
With one governor in prison and another impeached and indicted, reforming a state government mired in corruption and pay-to-pay politics is high on just about everybody's agenda.
Not Daley's. Not even after the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals resulted in dozens of convictions, including the March guilty verdict against former Streets and Sanitation commissioner and Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain Al Sanchez for rigging city hiring and promotions.
Why not champion the issue?
"We've done everything here. We're leading the way with our inspector general, office of compliance -- all the things we've done. We're more transparent than any other government. Look at it. We're doing a tremendous job here. We lead by example," he said.
With two weeks to go in the spring session, Daley instead renewed his push for the wish list he has championed for months.
It includes an infusion of capital funding to the CTA to ease pressure to raise fares and at least $200 million and pension relief for Chicago Public Schools to avoid classroom cuts and another local property tax increase.
The mayor also pushed for property tax and foreclosure relief as well as what he calls "common sense gun laws."
And he again urged Gov. Quinn to scrap his plan to withhold the 10 percent stake municipalities would expect to see in additional revenues from Quinn's proposal for a 50 percent increase in the state income tax.
"Mayors have said, 'We've politically worked to get our share of the income tax -- whether under [former governors] Ogilvie or under Edgar. We worked that. We supported that. They can't take that away," Daley said.
Schools chief Ron Huberman called Quinn's proposed $51.5 million increase in funding for Chicago Public Schools the smallest increase since 2002 and "one of the lowest we've seen."
It comes at a time when CPS is grappling with a $475 million deficit, limping along for the fifth straight year with no state money to fix crumbling schools and has no more rabbits to pull out of the hat.
"The district has already drawn down its reserves by $100 million to avoid increasing property taxes last year. Another draw-down is not an option. If we were to draw down our reserves any further, it would impact our bond rating," he said.
Quinn and legislative leaders are grappling with a monstrous, $12 billion deficit. Daley's agenda would pour on even more red ink.
Asked how he expects them to fund it, the mayor suggested leasing state assets. That's even though his $2.5 billion Midway Airport lease deal recently fell through for lack of financing, and the market for leasing public assets has dried up.
"We did it years ago. Why didn't anybody else think of this? At least they can start thinking about this thing," the mayor said.
"Markets are gonna come back. I'm confident this country will come back. We came back during the Depression. But you have to start thinking outside the box, because government is not gonna be run the same way [as it has] in the last 50 years after this deep, deep recession. It's gonna change. And unfortunately, the private sector is gonna change."
Remember Patrick, do not joke on the phone, it might be James Laski
On more than one occasion, I have had conversations with James Laski. James called me this morning and I thought it was someone else! James Laski was an honored guest on "Chicago Clout" the TV show associated with www.chicagoclout.com. At Chicago Clout we have brought our video quality up to par with some great new hosts and guests. The media world is very competitive and I was happy to learn James Laski is entering the fray. Some heavy weights are coming in from Florida to see if James Laski is the next major radio personality for Chicago. James asked if I was interested in advertising on the show and I committed. James Laski will need additional friends to help things get off the ground. The City of Chicago has a great need during prime time to explain what the inside track is in Chicago Politics. Chicago Taxpayers will need an advocate and I trust James Laski to give the unbiased truth. I am not happy with the spin out of the current administration Chicago has, we need clarity. You can contact James Laski at Chicago Clout or go to his website here: http://myfallfromgrace.com/ or here: http://jimlaski.blogspot.com/ Patrick McDonough