Thursday, March 29, 2007

Will Stone Now Build that Mosque?

Over a year ago, Jewish leaders went to Ald. Stone to get his assurance that he would not allow a mosque to be built in our neighborhood. But now we have reasons to be concerned.

Salman Aftab has endorsed Stone, and the word on the street is that one reason was because Stone agreed to allow a mosque to be built. While no one expects Stone to keep his word (be reasonable, he doesn't have a reputation for keeping his word), this would be outrageous. Is Stone really that desperate?

Seems like Berny Stone feels secure in his Jewish base, secure enough that he can cut deals detrimental to that base. Where's the outrage? I am shocked and surprised at this development, stunned even. I wouldn't have thought that Aftab's endorsement would be worth anything, let alone Stone's potential consent to build a mosque.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Berny Stone's Hate Campaign

The HATE-MONGER is back. He/she (many people believe it is Ilana) makes the ludicrous claim that it's the people who oppose Ald. Stone who have infused this campaign with hate. And other ridiculous claims.

Seems to me that it is Berny Stone that whips this up every four years. The anti-Stone voices we hear can't hold a candle to the meanness and hatred expressed by those who appear to support Stone. They claim to love the ward but seem to hate the people who live here. This isn't a surprise. Since Stone has become a non-factor in the politics of this city and the governance of this ward, he has used the most divisive tactics possible to get re-elected. The level of hatred whipped up in aldermanic campaigns appears to be directly linked to Stone's incompetence as a leader.

But you know what the Stone sycophants do? They blame the victims, of course! Sign stealing? It must be the other guys who've stolen their own signs! Racist flyers? It must be the other guys who've introduced them to this race! There's a pattern here, repeated over and over, that leads back to Stone.

None of this would occur if Stone wasn't a lazy, incompetent alderman. If Stone had actual contact with real people in the ward. If Stone ever got out of his protective tower or cared about the ward. The divisive tactics of hatred and race or ethnicity come directly from Ald. Stone. They've been used for years, and the only constant has been the presence of Stone on the ballot.

Naisy Dolar doesn't help. Her own use of race-based politics confuses the issue. But the fact is that the politics of hate and division in the 50th Ward comes from the presence of Bernard L. Stone. One poster even called him the master. If you appreciate that kind of thing.

HATE-MONGER wants to believe that unity in the ward will re-emerge after Stone is elected. That's absurd. The tensions in the ward, created by the lack of equitable services, an incredibly rude and incompetent staff, and the ineptitude of the alderman to provide for the ward, will only fester if Stone is re-elected. Stone divides us, on purpose. Those divisions will continue to exist as long as Stone is in office. Stone doesn't have the leadership qualities necessary to unite us.

If Stone is re-elected, we can count on the hate-campaign to re-emerge when Stone or his daughter is next on the ballot. They are the source of the intense hatred that appalls people. Stone is the source. The solution is to retire the inept, and take a chance on Dolar.

She couldn't possibly be worse than Stone. There is a very good chance that she will be better. A very good chance. A vote for Dolar has virtually no risk. A vote for Stone is a vote for the hate-campaign to continue. Let your conscience decide.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stone's Fake Debate Proposal

The joke around city hall is that if you want to see Ald. Stone "come alive," try to get between him and a microphone. Or, perhaps, the joke around city hall IS Ald. Stone. Who knows? It seems likely that we are not the only ones embarrassed by the alderman's antics.

The joke around the 50th is that Berny Stone offered to debate Naisy Dolar. This "proposal" (or joke) came right before the debate lined up by the WRPCO:
Michael C. Moses wrote:

On behalf of the Stone campaign I contacted the Dolar campaign and extended an invitation for a debate between Alderman Stone and Naisy Dolar on April 12, 2007 from 7:00-8:00 p.m.

If you didn't see it, there is no location for this fake debate proposal. A reasonable person might even consider it a trap. If they believed it to be real.

But I was thinking about this. Ald. Stone's proposals take up to a decade to implement. He talks about them, and talks about them some more, as if there is real movement towards his goals. He does this for years. He just doesn't have the power or influence to accomplish anything in a reasonable amount of time.

Why would this be any different?

I have no problem believing that Stone wants to debate Dolar. In a decade. Or so.

Word is that WTTW's Chicago Tonight (PBS, Channel 11) has asked the two to appear. They seem to be doing this for all the campaigns. The Dolar campaign appears to claim that the offer comes whether Ald. Stone appears or not. If Stone doesn't show up, Dolar gets all the air time that would have been devoted to the two of them.

Which brings us back to the joke from city hall. This isn't CAN-TV (where anyone can get on TV, even Berny Stone or Avy Meyers!). Stone's fears of appearing alongside an opponent may be trumped by his need to appear on televsion. Maybe.

No doubt Stone will argue that WTTW is biased. Chicago Tonight has seen many favorable comments about Dolar (eg, here and here). If Stone and his cronies aren't viewers of Chicago Tonight, it's unlikely he'll show. But that would reinforce Stone's reputation as the joke of Chicago. What a dilemma!

I think the odds are 60/40 that Stone won't show. Even if he appears, he might fall asleep! But the pressure would be immense. One weird comment, and it will be repeated over and over on YouTube and the Internet. And who thinks Stone can talk for 15 minutes without saying something bizarre?

Advantage: Dolar.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Organization and Benchmarks

Yahoo News pointed to this article from the Washington Post. It looks at the influence of Saul Alinksky and community organizing in the Presidential ambitions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The article itself is uninteresting. But it discusses something I had been thinking about since the beginning of this campaign. Will the community organizing model work in Chicago politics?

One of the reasons I became disenchanted with Naisy Dolar last summer was over this issue. Her emphasis, it seemed to me, was on organizing rather than beating Ald. Stone. I agree that our neighborhoods aren't organized. But voters could credit Dolar with organizing the neighborhoods and still vote to re-elect Berny Stone. Would they see the link that the organizers wanted them to see? Would it overcome the advantages that Stone has in name recognition, precinct organization and voter contact? These were questions I could not answer, and probably never can.

The Dolar strategy dovetails nicely with the new community organization. And there's no doubt that the 50th Ward is perhaps the worst organized in terms of community groups and neighborhood organizations with the ability to communicate their needs and concerns to city government. But the question is, can you win this way?

I wonder if this is the reason for the Runoff Predictions in the most recent post on Aldertrack. "AlderTrack: 'It's too early to call either the 49th or 50th. Both incumbents may be in trouble here, Ald. Stone more so than Ald. Moore. Check back the week before election day.'" Ten days ago it seemed to be predicting that Stone would lose.

One thing that has become obvious is that the run-offs will be closer than people imagine. Conventional Wisdom says that turnout is lower in run-off elections, and this is sometimes true. But turnout has also increased in run-offs. It depends on how much media attention the race draws.

Which comes back to the benchmarks. I've tried to pay attention to a couple of benchmarks to provide some insight into this race, notably whether the Mayor (and his supporters) would strongly support Ald. Stone and whether Asian-American money flowed into Dolar's coffers and she got the Union backing she expected. Greg Brewer points out that Stone is now following the Mayor's message for incumbents in the run-off (basically, 'I've heard your concerns and am now prepared to address them in full.' It's an open question whether Stone can be believed in terms of this message.). Dolar's disclosures demonstrate that she intends to be a player in this race. There is general agreement that the race has narrowed considerably.

One reason why I was interested in whether Stone was getting the Mayor's full support was because, if Dolar did not get the endorsements of SEIU or the CFL, then Stone would be the only one who had Union mail sent out on his behalf. Terry Peterson, the Mayor's campaign manager, has been facilitating a PAC of the Mayor's supporters, including several unions, who are supposed to be mailing into several wards. Without SEIU or the CFL mailing on behalf of Dolar, voters may reasonably conclude that the Unions are now supporting Stone. Some of them are.

Advantage: Ald. Stone.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blind Men in the Dark

I was asked yesterday who I thought would win. Who knows? What I see right now is two inept politicians tumbling towards April 17th.

The fact that the Stone camp did not meet with the Mayor last week is a sign. I just don't know what it means. Ald. Stone remains a recepient of the largese being generated by the Mayor's PAC, but does not appear to benefit from the Mayor's advice or troops.

For most other incumbents who had gotten 48% of the vote, this probably wouldn't matter. But this is Berny Stone, who seems to be stuck in the 1970s. It doesn't help that he's been distracted by family problems throughout the campaign. But the faux break-in? Anti-semitic slurs in a Phillipine tongue? That is incredible. NO ONE BELIEVES THAT! There is no clearer indication that Stone and his supporters are behind the recent rash of anti-semitic activity than this. And it is increasingly clear that if you want to calm racial tensions in the community, the defeat of Ald. Stone will guarantee it. Stone and his sycophants are evidently stoking racial tensions, and if Stone loses, they will disappear.

Re-electing Stone only guarantees that they will continue. Imagine what Ilana will do with the knowledge that race-baiting tactics work!

Naisy Dolar looks like she wants to be voted off the island. Anti-semiticism is wrong, and hate crimes should be treated as that, a crime. But Dolar has been acting more like a human rights advocate than a candidate. Not only has she been reacting to Stone's faked appeals, but by elevating them to this stature, she lends her credibility to these anti-semitic acts. Dolar let Stone play the victim, and squashed her own efforts to highlight criminal incidents that cast a poor light on the alderman.

Add to that the spectacle of last night. A group that cast off any thought of impartiality held its candidate forum even though it knew that only one candidate would show up. This legitimized the forum that Stone has put together, without any thought of impartiality. Voters in our community who were interested in a real give-and-take between the two candidates are the real losers here. Stone comes out a winner, since he still gets to dictate the terms of debate in the ward.

Over all, this week only solidified the inherent advantages that Stone brought into the run-off. Early voting begins next week, and these advantages will become more clear. When it is all over, and Dolar is wondering why she lost, she can look to this week as decisive. She started with elevated hopes, raising money and a publicized crime that played right into her themes. And then she relinquished control of the campaign. Hard to see how she can recover the momentum, especially as long as the spectre of anti-semiticism is out there.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Open Thread: Why Won't Stone Debate?

One commenter asks, "why won't Alderman Stone participate in a real debate?" This is your chance to answer the question. Why do you think Berny Stone is afraid to debate an opponent, despite his promise to do so?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Mayor and Aldertrack

This past week, the Mayor has been meeting with the campaigns that he is actively supporting in the run-offs. His involvement has been his usual for run-off elections since 1991: meeting with the candidates, their campaign staff and key supporters, offering strategic advice and outlining his involvement for the next couple of weeks.

I have not heard that Ald. Stone was on this list (I specifically asked). This doesn't mean that he wasn't, but I've not heard that he was. Perhaps the Mayor has decided that he ran so strong in the Municipal that Stone doesn't need his help. Perhaps the Mayor has cut Stone loose. But this puts this item at Aldertrack into context:

You Heard It Here First

An informed source suggests the following incumbent alderman will not prevail on April 17th:

Ald. Stone (50th)

These predictions are, of course, subject to change.

Could that informed source be the Mayor or someone close to him?

The Mayor has one of the best political minds in the city. He's also extremely practical. He's been known to seduce "reformers" and other anti-machine victors before, even incorporating them into the Chicago machine after they've taken office. Everyone knows that Naisy Dolar came out of the Mayor's office to run for alderman. It makes you wonder if the Mayor doesn't come out of this race a winner either way. But if the Mayor isn't giving Stone his strongest support, it will be interesting to see how well those precinct captains do who are more loyal to the Mayor.

The Mayor's lack of involvement, if true, might explain why Dolar has been filing A-1s (disclosure reports of contributions of $500 or more) and Stone hasn't. If the word is out there that Berny is vulnerable and he no longer has the support of the biggest player in Chicago, maybe Aldertrack's "informed source" is right.

Or it could just be that Stone's fear of a fair and impartial debate caught up with him!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Stroger Legacy

Can Ald. Stone last two and a half years? That's how long he'd have to serve so that he could resign and see Ilana appointed to serve out his term.

You've seen the pictures (from his website and literature). You've seen Berny. He's not a spring chicken anymore and he looks it. Stone walks gingerly. Many times in recent years, he's been assisted by an ever-present aide. Rumors of hospitalizations abound. He is not a well man.

But Berny has to live (and serve) more than two years to prevent a special election should he be unable to complete his term. The Mayor can't appoint a new alderman if there are more than two years remaining in the term.

So the question is, can Berny Stone last two and a half years?

We know what his response would be. He thinks he will live forever. He needs to serve another ten years to meet his declared goal of being the oldest alderman ever. That's not going to happen, and I don't think Berny believes it will happen, either.

It's his other goal, that Ilana succeed him, that we have to worry about. And that requires that he serve another two and a half years.

We can stop this madness on April 17th. Naisy Dolar has a shot. It may be a slim shot, but it's still the only way to ensure that Ilana is not alderman in three years. Stone's promises to the contrary are worthless (about as good as any of Stone's promises). Only by electing Naisy can we prevent Ilana's ascendancy. That's the only way. This is about the future, and Ilana casts a pale shadow over the 50th.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Debate Problem

The group that attempted to sponsor the debate between Ald. Stone and Naisy Dolar is apparently a new group to our community. This was one of the groups who organized a prior debate (the one held at Boone School). My neighbors had never heard of them before (and don't really know what they are about).

What is interesting about this group is how they have taken credit for forcing Greg Brewer into their last debate. This isn't how Brewer explained it, in either of his public communications, but they seem to be a braggy lot. The problem is that this approach will not work with Berny Stone, and it shouldn't.

This group is trying to publicly shame Stone into a debate, which he may or may not have agreed to in the first place. It's really hard to tell. Dolar didn't communicate with us about the debate until after Mike Moses (Stone's campaign spokesman) had already publicly declined to participate (on Stone's behalf). Just from the public information available, it sounds like the WRPCO got ahead of itself in announcing the debate.

But the alderman would show extraordinary weakness if he did participate in this debate. He would be giving power to a group nobody ever heard of before. And he would demonstrate that his word is worthless, something we all suspect but don't have a lot of proof for.

I don't believe that Stone will ever debate. I've stated my reasons below. But if he does debate, I would hope that the debate would be in a neutral setting and sponsored by people who weren't trying to influence the outcome of an election. That's the only fair approach. If you believe in justice and fairness, then you will join me in calling for a public debate between the two candidates in a neutral setting, sponsored by neutral parties. Even if the WRPCO would have fit this standard before, they no longer do. Time to let it go, and push for a different debate sponsored by a different community organization.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Why Stone is Too Scared to Debate

As reported yesterday, Ald. Stone has refused to debate Naisy Dolar. This cannot be a surprise. Despite Stone's previous statement(s), no one who's been paying attention to Stone and his reign over this community could believe that he would debate. It's not just that Stone would have to defend his record of failure and neglect. Nor is it because Naisy Dolar would outperform Stone in a one-on-one setting. There are at least three other reasons why Stone won't debate.

First of all, Berny Stone is old. A format that lasts longer than a few minutes will expose Stone's frailty. Take a look at Stone's appearances on CAN-TV. Despite the most favorable environment possible, Stone often looks disoriented or confused. There hasn't been an appearance in years where the host did not have to complete many of Stone's sentences for him.

It's not just that Stone is old, but it looks like he has lost some of his mental faculties. A debate threatens to expose Stone's physical and mental state. He might even fall asleep! Every time (except once) that I've seen Stone in the last few years he fell asleep. Not that he didn't wake up in time for his turn at the podium. But he fell asleep nonetheless. He's not up to a debate, let alone up for the job.

Secondly, Berny Stone is weak. Not just physically or mentally. Stone is weak politically. There's a reason that the 50th is dead last in capitol spending. It's because Stone doesn't have the power, influence or will to bring money here. The 50th is an afterthought in the city of Chicago. While other wards have powerful aldermen like Ed Burke or Dick Mell, the 50th has Berny Stone. Good Ole Berny. While other wards have energetic aldermen like Tom Tunney or Marianne Smith, the 50th has Berny Stone. He's willing to go along to get along. You won't see the supporters of other aldermen excusing the inability of their alderman to deliver for their wards. They have a can-do spirit. Need help? They want to deliver. They know that a satisfied community is a happy and supportive community.

There's a reason why Berny Stone is the honorific Vice Mayor instead of the chairman of a powerful committee. Good Ole Berny! Think about it. When Burt Natarus wanted the street musicians moved out of the glamour portion of his ward, they didn't return. But when Berny Stone wanted the street vendors moved out of the 50th, they just laid low for awhile. They eventually returned. No harm done. Good Ole Berny. Berny does what the Mayor or Mike Madigan tells him to do. He's a reliable supporter for whatever the real leaders of Chicago want.

The fact that Berny is weak politically is the reason that he has to bring in machine workers from other wards to help him out. It's why he had to hire people from Skokie to sit outside the polls or walk the streets on election day. Berny Stone is probably the weakest of all the aldermen-committeemen combinations in Chicago. Everyone knows they have to carry Berny Stone. And they do.

But that's not good for the 50th. It's not even good for Chicago!

Finally, Berny Stone is a coward. Think about it. When was the last time Stone faced an opponent without an incredible show of support by his supporters? If you go to his office hours, you are surrounded by Stone's sycophants. Stone doesn't face his opponents, and certainly not opponents who are on equal footing (by virtue of both being on the ballot). He would much rather use his semi-official mouthpiece as a crutch. At least if he forgets what he's saying (or the topic at hand), Avy can step in and complete the sentence!

Berny Stone won't debate because he's afraid, he's weak and he's old. A real debate would expose all his weaknesses, and demonstrate none of his self-proclaimed strengths. A real debate would expose Berny Stone as an incapable alderman who's just holding on to the job, ostensibly so that he can pass it along to his daughter.

That's sure not good for the 50th!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stone Refuses to Debate

As expected, Ald. Stone has refused to participate in the debate previously announced. Stone's fear of debating his opponents is widely known, so this cannot be considered a surprise.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

The Horserace

Naisy Dolar supporters can only hope that she is out there raising an incredible amount of money. Because it looks bad. Dolar needs to change the dynamic.

Historically, alderman who get 45-49% (and who's main challenger doesn't) win the run-off. Chicago insiders who look at Ald. Stone's performance think the odds are decidedly in his favor. Stone is helped by three additional factors:

1. The race in the 49th draws the liberal/reformers away from the 50th
2. Twelve run-offs spread the field considerably, increasing competition both for money and volunteers
3. The Mayor is said to "back Stone to the hilt" and he has the cash to do it

The Democratic Club, and its experience with getting votes through absentees, early voting and nursing homes, is another factor likely to play a significant role in how Stone does in this election.

The final factor is something we see here: Stone is trying to make this campaign about Naisy Dolar and whether she is committed to the 50th or qualified to be alderman. Stone's supporters have ample experience in surrounding Stone's opponents with doubt about their character or qualifications. I've mentioned before that most if not all of Stone's former opponents now seem to live elsewhere. That is not a coincidence.

Naisy Dolar faces an uphill climb. Her biggest obstacle is that she didn't come within "striking distance" in February. Her second biggest problem is that most other challengers who gained a run-off did. In the competition for resources, Dolar's performance compared to other challengers in the city makes her a long-shot at best. Only those who are emotionally invested in defeating Stone will get involved.

Signs are that organized labor is not emotionally invested. Dolar probably understood that labor would not back her, even in the run-off, when SEIU asked her to drop out. It can't help that Dolar trumpets her time with the Mayor, who's not exactly in favor with organized labor these days.

While Dolar must be considered a long-shot at this stage, that could change with a quick infusion of cash from the Asian-American community. Her best hope is to change the perception of this race, and the main prospect for doing that is through her pre-election disclosure.

Dolar has generated remarkable publicity for her campaign until now. But she just squeaked into a run-off, and it seems the media will focus on more competitive races. Plus Berny Stone seems every bit as capable of generating publicity as Dolar. Today, the odds favor Stone's re-election. We can only guess right now whether the same will be true in five weeks.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stone-Dolar Debate Scheduled?

There is an unconfirmed report that Ald. Stone and Naisy Dolar will debate on March 21st at 7:30. Dolar's website has yet to issue a News Release for this, which is surprising. And Stone may still not show up, which would surprise no one.

Details (from link above):
Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Time: 7:00 - 9:00pm (doors open at 7:00pm, event begins promptly at 7:30pm)
Location: Daniel Boone Elementary School Auditorium, 6710 N. Washtenaw, Chicago

The forum will be moderated by Thom Clark from Community Media Workshop. The event is sponsored by the West Rogers Park Community Organization and co-sponsored by Organization of the Northeast. For more information, call (773) 761-8274 or send an e-mail to


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Precinct Captains, Absentees and Turnout

One commenter, presumably a Stone precinct captain, mentions that he/she is out there passing out absentee ballot requests for the April 17th run-off. This is a classic machine tactic that didn't work so well last time. Stone supporters gathered 2,000 absentee ballot requests for the February election, but only about one-quarter of those were voted absentee. More than 500 votes, presumably for Stone, but 500+ is not 2,000.

My dad was interested in my question whether 50th Ward precinct captains were more loyal to Daley (who controls the jobs) than Stone. He ran his own analysis of the percentage of Stone votes to Daley votes precinct by precinct. I think he was surprised by what he found.

Dad found 13 precincts where it is clear that their precinct captains are loyal to Stone first, and effective in what they are doing: 34, 31, 12, 16, 39, 38, 11, 40, 14, 30, 45, 44 and 33. Ald. Stone received 2004 votes from these precincts. Precincts 25, 10, 41, 27, 5, 3, 23, 24, 1, 28, 17, 18, 26 and 2 all had above average performance when Daley votes are compared to the number of Stone votes in those precincts. They accounted for abother 1925 votes for Stone. There is no way to know why these precincts, all but two of which had a majority of votes for Stone, gave a significant amount of more votes to Daley than to Stone. What we can say is that the precinct captains in the first set of precincts were more effective in delivering voters to Stone than those in the rest of the ward.

But there's another way of looking at this. When you compare the precincts where Stone won more than 50% of the vote to those where he did not, you see that the Stone majority precincts had a higher turnout percentage than those that didn't (45.9% to 39.65%). Conventional wisdom says that run-off elections always see a tapering off in turnout. The question becomes, which side is more motivated: Stone's or Dolar's?

We will see how motivated Dolar is when she files her next disclosure. We will see how convincing she is if and when SEIU and the CFL get behind her and throw their considerable resources into this race. And we will know how united the anti-Stone forces are when we see Brewer and Aftab signs replaced by Dolar signs, and pictures of the three candidates together. The organizational advantage rests with Stone. Momentum rests with Dolar. At least it did, until they paused the campaign. Now it's anybody's guess!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stone's Thugs Steal Dolar Signs

It's begun. Stone's thugs have turned their attention to Naisy Dolar, and now there are wide reports of her signs having been stolen across the ward.

This can't be a surprise. Stone's thugs did this to another candidate in February. There are eyewitness reports that say the person who stole the signs (in February) was the same person delivering Stone literature the previous day.

Ald. Stone thinks nothing of sending one of his thugs onto your property and stealing your property. Stone's cavalier attitude about sign-stealing (everyone does it, he says) exposes his real attitude about the people and private property in the 50th Ward. Stone thinks we belong to him! Private property? That's his, too. We are only serfs in his kingdom. We only have the rights he allows us to have.

Private property? We don't need no stinkin' private property in the Stone Age!

This is the same attitude that allows him to want his daughter to succeed him. Divine rights are inherited. Stone thinks of the 50th Ward as his to do with what he wants. He has no interest in bettering the 50th, only in concentrating power into his hands. In his mind, that makes it better. Not for us, but maybe for him.

Remember that Stone is only trying to intimidate us. These crimes demonstrate his sense of vulnerability, his desperation, his recognition that he may lose. The more he feels threatened, the more he will employ mob-like tactics. Berny Stone is not interested in a fair election, he's interested in a coronation.

Time for thugs like Stone to go.


Monday, March 05, 2007


Some interesting comments on the previous post. One commenter naturally assumes that because I am anti-Stone, I must be pro-Dolar. Untrue. My problems with Ald. Stone are equally problems with Naisy Dolar. Dolar has repeatedly used race and talk about oppression as the basis for her run. I'm tired of ethnic politics and divide and conquer tactics in the 50th Ward. She seems to think that because it worked for Stone, it must be the only thing she can do.

Dolar's problem is that she doesn't think better of us. One class or ethnicity must be up while the other is pushed down. If that's our choice, there is really no choice. I oppose all candidates who play this game. There is not much point in "rallying my readers" against Stone when the choice is mini-Stone. The point is to break the cycle of oppression, not change the oppressor.

Another commenter wonders if I didn't underestimate Dolar. I don't think so. I think most people have underestimated Berny Stone. Stone chose Dolar to be his opponent, and we can only speculate why. I have to question whether Dolar had anything to do with her place in the run-off.

Instead of re-writing history, let's remember that a week before the election, Stone ratcheted up his anti-Semitism gambit. In more ways than one, he called Greg Brewer an anti-Semite. Stone tried to argue that "his friends" (presumably a direct quote from Brewer) meant Jews in the 50th. Then he iced it off with that little stunt with a swastika.

Naisy Dolar was the direct beneficiary of Stone's tactics. He didn't call her anti-Semitic. And it's ludicrous to argue that Brewer is anti-Semitic. Add in several of Stone's precinct captains telling supporters to tell their friends and family that if they couldn't vote for Stone to vote for Dolar. Stone, for whatever reason, wanted to face Dolar. He choose the April ballot.

Anti-Stone voters played into Berny's hand. Brewer was seen as a wounded candidate, with hints of anti-Semitism around him, by people tired of Stone. Eager to see Stone defeated, they saw no way that Brewer could make headway among the 50th's major voter group. Dolar was an easy alternative. The newspaper endorsements certainly didn't hurt, either. But there's a reason that Stone wanted to face Dolar, if he had to go into a run-off. I don't know what that reason is, but I can see the evidence behind it.

According to lore, no one has ever overcome a 15 percentage point deficit to win a run-off. It's hard to see how Naisy Dolar can buck that trend, especially without money or union backing. You are welcome to explain how, if you like. I'm just trying to look at this race logically.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dolar's Deepening Dilemma

The next 44 days offer a big test to Naisy Dolar and her campaign. The biggest test of all comes in the next two weeks. Dolar needs big fund-raising numbers to send a message that she is a credible candidate. The threat of a massive infusion of cash from the Asian-American community is the greatest asset that Dolar has going into the run-off. But she has to deliver in time for the next report. It's the only opportunity that she has to attract city-wide attention and the help of Chicago's alternative political institutions.

How much does she need to have on her next report? Probably about $40,000.

Dolar's problem is that there will be twelve run-offs, and she is at the bottom of that list. It doesn't help that she didn't have union support going into February. The unions, specifically SEIU and the CFL, are likely to preserve their commitment to those they have already endorsed first. So Joe Moore, Joann Thompson, Leroy Jones, Toni Foulkes, Pat Dowell, Michelle Smith and Paul Stewart all get first crack at union money and workers. That's a big list, for those who didn't count. Many people expected no more than a handful of run-offs. Organizations will prioritize in the process of deciding who to support. Dolar is not only running against Ald. Stone, but against all the other challengers seeking to unseat an incumbent in Chicago this April.

Dolar doesn't look good in comparison to the rest of the run-off challengers. Joann Thompson (16th) and Bob Fioretti (2nd) start out with the distinct advantage of having received more votes than their incumbent alderman. In the open seat in the 15th Ward, UFCW member Toni Foulkes was the top vote-getter, with a spread of 7.18 percentage points over the next contender. Pat Dowell (3rd) came within 4.82 percentage points of Dorothy Tillman. SEIU member Leroy Jones (21st) came within 12 percentage points of Howard Brookins. And Michelle Smith (43rd) came just within the all important 15 percentage point spread considered essential to be successful within a run-off.

Naisy Dolar was behind Berny Stone by more than 20 percentage points. She has no previous connections with SEIU or the CFL. In fact, we hear that the CFL has moved their organizer over to the 49th to help Ald. Moore. This may be because Dolar spent the last days of the campaign taunting him and the CFL with a pre-election stunt. In terms of spread, Dolar wound up tenth out of twelve, and well outside the 15 percentage point spread. She has to raise significant money immediately from the Asian-American community to have a shot at Stone. In a few weeks, we will know if she is up to the challenge.

All of Chicago is watching.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Daley and Stone's Precinct Captains

There's trouble. Right here in River City. Yep, we've got trouble.

Ald. Stone's biggest problem going into the run-off is that Mayor Daley will not be on the ballot. That doesn't mean that Stone will be pulling down those Daley/Stone signs down anytime soon. What it does mean is that Stone's precinct captains won't be as enthusiastic about working towards the run-off as they were in February.

If you listen to many of Stone's precinct captains, they aren't happy with either the 50th Ward Democratic organization or with Stone's campaign. For many of them, their loyalty lies with Daley, not Stone. (They may be embarrassed by Stone, too!)

Others have personal problems that make doing their job more difficult. Some are just plain new to the job. What Daley brought to the ticket was a fall-back position for many of these precinct captains: while they might not care to help Stone, they did want to help Daley. The Mayor has always depended on big numbers coming from out of the Northside to counter any trouble he might have in the Southside wards.

The question is, can Stone motivate the 50th Ward precinct captains to work as hard for him as they worked for Daley? Can he get them to work hard enough to beat the highly-motivated Dolar precinct captains?

Stone won just a bare majority of precincts (24 out of 45). Several of them (24 in particular) that are typically stronger machine precincts he just barely won. And others (7 and 13, for example) he lost outright.

Berny Stone is looking at his last days as the 50th Ward alderman. We have seen how he acts when he is threatened. But now there is blood in the water. And Stone's support is a lot softer than anyone previously believed.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

What Does Stone's Loss Mean?

Ald. Stone and his supporters repeatedly predicted that Stone would win outright on Tuesday. He brought in machine workers from other wards and spent prolificly on workers from Skokie and Chicago. He brought in the Mayor repeatedly. He leveled ridiculous charges of anti-Semitism and probably sent himself hate mail.

And still he couldn't win.

Berny Stone has created two myths around himself that has helped him stay in power. The first was that he was much beloved. The second was that he was invulnerable. Both myths are now pierced.

Stone refused to run on his record, even though these elections are always about the incumbent. And underneath this is the issue of Stone's health. All Stone's campaign literature made the alderman look drawn and pale. Rumors that Stone spends significant time in local hospitals still persist, although he's said to have moved locations. Other rumors, and that's all these are, say that local nurses have been asked to be on the lookout for Stone and Ilana.

The question we can never answer is whether Stone will actually last another four years.

Stone himself, by sending out literature that makes him appear ill, has made health a key issue in this race. And the spectre of Ilana hangs thick like fog over the next fourty-odd days. No matter what Stone says, Ilana is an issue, both because he has named her as his desired successor AND the fact that his health is suspect.

For the first time, perhaps in the last 20 years, voters in the ward will think seriously about who will replace Ald. Stone. The choice is between two women: Ilana or Naisy. One of them is needs no introduction to the 50th Ward, whether it's her piercings, her biker gang, or her history of partying.

Naisy will do well to introduce herself to the rest of the ward. Ilana is a formidible and nasty opponent.