As WIND-AM radio host Dan Proft says, “Illinois isn’t broken, it’s fixed.”
And the biggest fixer of all in Illinois is Boss Michael Madigan, the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1997, speaker of the Illinois House, except for two years, since 1983, and Democratic committeman of the 13th Ward since 1969.
As I’ve mentioned many times before in this space, Madigan, among many other things, is a walking advertisement for term limits. I didn’t call him a walking-and-talking advertisement for term limits, because Illinois’ most powerful politician infrequently speaks to the media.
On Friday Boss Madigan was implicated in a bribery scheme involving Illinois’ largest utility, Commonwealth Edison, part of the Exelon Corporation. ComEd, in a deferred prosecution agreement, is charged with one count of bribery. ComEd, according to the filing, admitted that it gained $150 million in rate structuring over the last eight years. Which means that Illinoisans like me have to pay more for electricity.
ComEd has to pay a $200 million fine. If the utility behaves over the next three years the bribery charge will be dropped.
The bribe scheme involves the utility rewarding contracts and jobs–some of them allegedly little-or-no-work—to Madigan cronies. Madigan is not named by the feds but he is widely believed to be the person labeled Public Official A in their paperwork.
Illinois’ weaselly Democratic governor, JB Pritzker, the state’s second-most powerful pol, had this to say later on Friday about the man whose political machine arguably gained him the Democratic nomination in 2018, and hence the governor’s office in the general election, “If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign therefore.”
But Pritzker has his own legal problem. The aggressive U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, in an investigation involving the former Cook County assessor, Joseph Berrios, is believed to be looking at Pritzker. Berrios is the former chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, better known as the Chicago Machine. Berrios has long ties to Madigan and it’s generally believed that Madigan was the impetus for Berrios’ unanimous election as chairman of the Cook County Dems in 2007.
A billionaire, Pritzker and his wife, MK, had the toilets removed from a Chicago Gold Coast mansion that he owns and that is adjacent to the one he lives in. Allegedly the commodes were removed so JB’s residence could receive a $330,000 property tax break because the mansion next door was “uninhabitable.” Also on Friday, news broke about the investigation of the Cook County assessor’s office involving other 100 properties. Many of the tax appeals filed were handled by a small law firm where Boss Madigan is a name partner. A law firm where Chicago alderman Ed Burke is a partner–he is under indictment for racketeering–handled some of the other appeals.
The Pritzkers later paid the county back the $330,000 he saved. JB and MK deny any wrongdoing. However, the Cook County inspector general called the toilet removal appeal a “scheme to defraud” taxpayers such as myself.
Back to Madigan.
The jobs Madigan allegedly pressured ComEd to hand out allegedly include a real plum, a board of directors seat at ComEd. That person, not named by the feds, got the seat but he is no longer on the board. Some students who live in Madigan’s Chicago ward received internships from ComEd. While internships may not involve a paycheck, job offers can follow. Madigan’s office even directed the utility to hire meter readers for ComEd.
Boss Madigan is widely considered to the man behind the fiscal crisis that has destroyed Illinois. The Prairie State is burdened unsustainable public-worker pension debt. Public-sector unions have been a loyal cog for Democrats in Illinois for decades. Madigan’s fingerprints are on every Illinois budget since the early 1980s. Yet Madigan somehow finds the time to tell which meter readers ComEd should hire.
Illinois has $4.8 billion in unpaid bills, the lowest amount since 2015. But a $1.2 billion federal loan designed for COVID-19 relief deserved the credit. Loans, by the way, are supposed to be paid back.
Illinois has been annually losing population since 2014.
As for alleged Madigan strong-arming, the feds aren’t just looking at Commonwealth Edison. Madigan’s state office was subpoenaed on Friday, allegedly authorities were seeking records involving AT&T (disclosure, I worked for them for 11 years), Walgreens, Rush University–and a whole lot more.
Through a spokesperson Madigan denies any wrongdoing.
While Donald Trump’s chances of winning Illinois this fall are miniscule–part of that reason is the Illinois conservatives are demoralized because of Madigan’s obscene gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional districts–reelecting Trump may be the best way to ensure a thorough prosecution of Democratic corruption in Illinois. Americans, we’re all in the same boat. A Joe Biden pick for the Chicago area’s chief federal prosecutor might be less enthusiastic about going after Madigan and the Illinois culture of corruption.
Chicago’s largest shopping district, and its best-known, is North Michigan Avenue, which is just north of downtown. It’s known internationally as the Magnificent Mile.
The Mag Mile is dominated by luxury department stores and boutiques, including Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdale’s, Cartier, Macy’s Tiffany, Burberry’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rolex, and many more.
So naturally it was a target of the Antifa-driven riots of last weekend in Chicago.
I was on the Mag Mile Thursday. Nearly every building was boarded-up at street level. Not all were looted, I assume. But who knows?
Someone tried to break down the glass doors at Rolex apparently with a sledgehammer, after which another hooligan sprayed “F*ck Trump” on one of the shattered doors.
Spontaneous protests aren’t attended by sledgehammer wielding thugs carrying cans of spray paint.
Many stores were looted–probably most.
There’s an American Girl Store on the Mile–it was boarded up. The Disney Store on North Michigan was not the happiest shop in the world–it was sealed off by plywood too.
There was rioting and looting all over Chicago and in the suburbs. On a personal note the area where I live, the inner northern suburbs, was not hit by rioting and looting.
The George Floyd homicide was an abomination. But I don’t believe there is any justification for the rioting, looting, and the arson, the latter of which didn’t strike the Magnificent Mile.
The Illinois lockdown is harsh. Dine-in restaurants are still closed–outdoor dining was allowed on May 29, except in Chicago, which had a June 3rd partial re-opening date. Many of the aforementioned retailers had been closed since late March and were looking at a June 3 reopening.
Then came the riots.
Chicago and Illinois’ recovery from the Great Recession was a slow one–political mismanagement, corruption, and unfunded pension liabilities saw to that. And those three underlying failures, particularly the pension bomb, have gotten worse since then.
Chicago and Illinois seem destined for more misery.
I want to add one more thought. Police brass botched the initial response to the downtown and Magnificent Mile riots. The Chicago River draw bridges were not immediately raised, an opportunity to block or at least separate the mob was lost. And Chicago police officers were guarding Chicago’s 18 miles of lakefront parks from walkers, runners, and cyclists, as they have been for over two months, while the riots and arson raged.
So what do Stephen Sanders, Rickey King III, Calvin Munerlyn, Cornelius Bruce, Kimberly McCubbin, Darrin White, Carlos Brown, Helle Jae O’Regan, Charles Edward Lewis III, Tina Louise Maldonado and Keyon Rogers have in common with each other.
Like Ahmaud Arberyall of these people are or I should say, were, members of “protected” groups, black, hispanic, women, Transgender women, yet because, their killers were did not fit the profile of the media’s desired narrative, their murders, unlike Ahmaud Arberry’s are not considered worthy of national outrage.
A 1960s radical once said: “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” Whenever the Left seizes on some incident like the Arbery shooting, they do so to advance their agenda, and the role of supposedly “objective” journalists in assisting this project is what we need to focus on
Personally I think that a great question to those outraged over the Arberry case would be to insert any of those name I have listed above and ask why Stephen Sanders, Rickey King III, Calvin Munerlyn, Cornelius Bruce, Kimberly McCubbin, Darrin White, Carlos Brown, Helle Jae O’Regan, Charles Edward Lewis III, Tina Louise Maldonado and Keyon Rogers murders are not worthy of their attention or outrage.
Alas I suspect that since these lists grow pretty fast you will have plenty of new names to add to your question by the time the media find their next shooting with the right combination of killer and victim to promote to national prominence.
Closing Thought: Can you think of words to describe a media that only considers the murders of blacks, Hispanics, transgenders and women uninteresting unless they can be someone used to attack their enemies? I can, the word is Racist and sexist!
February was a nasty month in Chicago. Not the weather, as it was pretty good. Just a day or two of sub-zero weather and no major snowstorms.
No, I’m talking about crime. Just as there are contested primaries in Cook County for state’s attorney, which consists of Chicago and its inner suburbs, on both the Democratic and Republican sides. There are three challengers to Kim Foxx in the Democratic side, two GOPers are battling for their party not.
Bill Conway seems to be the leading Dem challenge to the incumbent prosecutor.
Foxx, best known for her still not-fully explained decision to drop charges against alleged hate crime hoax charges against Jussie Smollett. A grand jury empowered by a special prosecutor issued new charges against the former Empire star last month,
In 2019 there were 123 shootings in February. This February there were 166.
Carjackings are up too. As with murders in Chicago, the clearance rate is abysmally low, year to year, according to Hey Jackass, hovers around ten percent. But that clearance rate is declining.
There are no figures on gangs of shoplifters in Chicago, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate there are more of these roving mobs. Twice last month the ritzy North Michigan Avenue was hit. Both times no one was arrested.
Foxx, a leftist, refuses to charge shoplifters with a felony who are caught steeling less than $1,000 in merchandise. The Illinois threshold is $300. Crime seems to pay in Chicago and suburban Cook County as long as you don’t get caught and especially if you don’t get too greedy.
“I didn’t cross any lines I didn’t break any laws,” disgraced former Illinois governor told Rod Blagojevich Fox Chicago’s Larry Yellen in his first interview after his 14-year prison sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump.
Blago did both, which is why I oppose Trump’s commutation. I’m also on the other side of the opinions of my conservative friends and relatives here in the Land of Lincoln. Two of them are lawyers who have tried cases in front of now-retired federal judge James Zagel, a Ronald Reagan appointee. One of those attorneys remarked to me that he was “a hardass with a tin ear.” When I pointed out that one of the counts that the Chicago Democrat was convicted was for was attempting to extort a children’s hospital, he conceded, “Yeah, that was a bad one.”
So is trying to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder. As is lying to federal agents.
“I will govern as a reformer,” is what Blagojevich declared in his first inaugural address. His idea of reform was replacing the crooks and ward heelers surrounding his predecessor, Republican George H. Ryan, with his own crew of corruption. Blago’s friend and top aide Christopher Kelly was one of them. Shortly before he was to begin his five-year prison sentence, Kelly committed suicide. Two of Blagojevich’s chiefs of staff served time. Tony Rezko, his political fixer and fundraiser, served several years in federal prison. While they may have willingly been on board Blago’s corruption express, the former governor aided in ruining several lives.
“He honestly believes he did nothing wrong,” Yellen told Mike Flannery this weekend about Blago on Flannery Fired Up.
On my own blog I explained my opposition to the commutation with one caveat. If Blago spills the beans on what he knows about his political adversary, longtime state House speaker and Democratic Party chairman Michael Madigan, I’ll give Trump’s move a second thought. There is a current federal investigation of Illinois corruption and Boss Madigan’s name keeps coming up. True, whatever Blagojevich knows probably falls outside of the statute of limitations, but it can’t hurt either. Illinois needs to be power-scrubbed and sand-blasted. Illinois needs much more transparency.
And as I’ve said many times, one way to finally clean up Illinois is to have judges like James Zagel impose maximum sentences on crooked pols and public workers. Fear is a powerful motivator. The 28-year sentence that former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick received–he had his hands in a lot more pots than Blagojevich–is a good example.
Last Sunday in this space I wrote about the need to ban red-light cameras in Illinois–and nationwide. One of the reasons I gave was that the easy cash collected from these “safety devices” fosters corruption. Oh, as far as safety, I mentioned in that post that the record on safety involving red-light cameras is at best mixed. They may even cause automobile accidents.
On Tuesday former Illinois state senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), who has close ties to longtime state House speaker Michael Madigan–who also is the chairman of the state Democratic Party–pleaded guilty to bribery, tax evasion, and extortion charges in federal court. Sandoval is now cooperating with the feds.
Sandoval is the former chairman of the senate Transportation Committee. Using the clout from that post, he promised to “go balls to the walls for anything you ask me” to a representative of the red-light camera firm referred to as “Company A” in the plea agreement.
So far that company has not been officially named but perhaps in a verbal misstep, told a judge, “I accepted money in exchange for the use of my office as a state senator to help SafeSpeed, or Company A.”
SafeSpeed denies wrongdoing and in a statement says it is cooperating with federal authorities.
Politicians are nervous. This weekend on his Fox Chicago show Flannery Fired Up, host Mike Flannery said, “This red light camera company–suddenly candidates, Republicans and Democrats in Springfield and elsewhere are racing to get rid of this money as if it was infected with the coronavirus. ”
Prosecutors say that Sandoval accepted $250,000 in bribes, including $70,000 in bribes to benefit the red-light camera industry.
Part of the federal investigation involves lobbying done on the behalf of Commonwealth Edison, the local electrical utility.
As far as public interest, the jaded residents of Illinois will have reasons to keep their attention focused on these scandals. Why?
Because people hate utilities.
They hate red-light cameras.
They hate politicians.
Yes, people keep re-electing the latter, but Boss Michael Madigan, the Michelangelo of gerrymanderers, mocks the electoral system by creating legislative districts that all but ensures Democratic super-majorities in the Illinois General Assembly.
And increasingly, people hate Illinois. The Prairie State has lost population for six straight years. And no, cold winters aren’t the reason. The states that border Illinois, as well as nearby Michigan, are gaining residents.
As nauseum pols and media figures are calling–again–for “meaningful reform” in Illinois. Here are my suggestions: Amend the state constitution to ban gerrymandering, and bring term limits to the General Assembly–four terms in the House and two in the Senate. Majority leaders, minority leaders, House speakers and Senate president should be limited to four-year terms. And while we are amending the constitution, the pension guarantee clause needs to dropped, but while protecting those recipients on the lower and of the pension scale.
There is a lot of red-light camera news in Illinois. As part of an overall corruption investigation in the state, federal authorities are into looking into the activities of Chicago firm, SafeSpeed, LLC, which installs red-light cameras in some Chicago suburbs.
Last week the mayor of west suburban Oakbrook Terrace, Tony Ragucci, resigned. He is part of that SafeSpeed probe. Federal agents have also have raided the municipal offices of the villages of McCook, Summit, and Lyons in conjunction with this investigation. A state senator who is part of the red-light camera probe, Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) has since resigned.
Last year federal authorities seized $60,000 from Ragucci’s home, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and $51,000 from a safe from Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski’s residence. Tobolski is also the mayor of McCook.
SafeSpeed’s CEO denies any wrongdoing and no charges have been filed regarding the firm.
Something stinks in Illinois. Actually, something new stinks in the state.
Red-light cameras are a cruel cash cow. At best their record in preventing accidents, the prima facie for them, is mixed as evidence shows out of fear of a $100 ticket–the charge in Illinois–motorists often abruptly slam on the brakes but then end up getting rear-ended.
As the nation’s most corrupt city, it shouldn’t be surprising that Chicago has more red-light cameras than any other municipality. Nor should it be surprising that it has endured a bribery scandal involving red-light cameras. John Bills, a former precinct captain in Michael Madigan’s political organization, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for accepting $2 million in bribes and gifts from a different red-light camera company, Redflex.
Madigan has been speaker of the Illinois House for thirty-five of the last thirty-seven years and he’s been the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1998.
Three paragraphs ago I called red light cameras a cruel cash cow. How much cash? From 2008 through 2018, drivers forked over $1 billion to municipalities. Not a major reason, but I suspect the proliferation of red-light cameras, most of which are concentrated in the Chicago area, as among the causes of Illinois’ six-years-and-counting population decline.
Here’s a personal take on red-light cameras. Thursday night Mrs. Marathon Pundit, who is a limousine driver, called me. “You have to pick me up at O’Hare Airport.” I replied, “Why?” She answered, “There is a boot on my limo.” Yes, one of those wheel boots. When I picked her up at O’Hare she supplied more details. “The city says there are four unpaid red-light tickets, two of them are from 2018, but the office says they were never told about them.”
Okay, you may answer that one of her co-workers could be covering up inaction at the office. But in order for her employer to receive a city vehicle sticker for the limo she drives, all red-light camera tickets must be paid off. But the limo she drives has the latest Chicago vehicle sticker.
Those four tickets cost her employer $988, which included late charges and sending someone out to the car to remove the boot. Not knowing what was coming next, Mrs. Marathon Pundit parked her limo in a short-term lot, so her fee–which we have to pay–was a staggering $77. As it took all day Friday to sort out this debacle, my wife missed a day of work. She’s not on salary.
I’m certain hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans have similar stories.
There is some good news regarding red-light cameras. Last year Texas became the eighth state to abolish them. And in a rare bipartisan push, there is a movement in Illinois to ban them. And Illinois drivers now have a new friend, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. The Chicago Democrat says she’ll no longer assist municipalities in collecting red-light camera tickets. “As a matter of public policy, this system is clearly broken,” Mendoza said in a statement, “I am exercising the moral authority to prevent state resources from being used to assist a shady process that victimizes taxpayers.”
One thing hasn’t changed since the outage here at Da Tech Guy. Corruption in Illinois is rampant.
As I noted in this space, on the third day of 2019, Chicago’s most powerful alderman, Ed Burke, who has been in office for 50 years, was named in a criminal complaint centered on an extortion complaint from a fast food restaurant in his ward. In May, Burke was indicted on 14 corruption charges. Burke’s wife, Anne, sits on the Illinois Supreme Court. More on that later.
Around the time of the Burke indictment, the FBI raided the homes of Michael Zalewski, a former Chicago alderman, Kevin Quinn, the brother of another Chicago alderman, and Mike McClain, a lobbyist. All of them are close allies of Michael Madigan, Illinois House speaker for 34 of the last 36 years and the chairman of the state Democratic Party. Quinn’s brother represents the 13th Ward in Chicago’s City Council, where Madigan serves as Democratic committeeman.
Clearly the federal government is on to something in Madigan’s geographic base, the Southwest Side of Chicago and its southwestern suburbs. Of course Madigan’s fierce grip reaches all the way to the Ohio River. However, Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor, urges caution in jumping to conclusions in linking these raids to Boss Madigan’s activities.
Less that an hour ago I wrote a post on writers block and now after a few minutes of Twitter I’m brimming with idea but have no time to write a long post so here are a few twitter thoughts under my fedora.
Mugabie reminds us that a revolutionary like George Washington who Refuses a throne after victory Has to be forced by popular demand to lead as president Doesn't enrich his family off the country Surrenders power willingly & Withdraws from public life Is the magnificent exception https://t.co/YmNmy3DXgb
"There was this kid I grew up…We did our first work together – worked our way out of the street… So when he turned up dead – I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen" https://t.co/y38P6ZjWOc