Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stone-Silverstein Race Gets Noticed

In what appears to the a battle royale, the Chicago Tribune has a piece today about Ira Silverstein's challenge to Ald. Stone for the Democratic Committeeman office:

Alderman challenged for key post

By Gary Washburn | Tribune staff reporter
August 22, 2007

State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) has decided to run for 50th Ward Democratic committeeman, setting the stage for a battle with Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), Silverstein's longtime mentor and the ward's current party leader.

"I think people are looking for some change politically in the 50th," Silverstein said Tuesday. "There are groups that I think want to get involved in the political process, and I think we have to reach out to these groups and be inclusive."

Stone's reason that he should be re-elected is laughable: "When you deliver 80 percent of the vote to the Democratic Party as I have, I think that is a pretty good job." The 50th Ward is in the bottom third with the number of registered voters on its rolls. While outside groups have come in and registered voters, especially in Presidential years, Stone has always been hands off the details and responsibilities of a Democratic Committeeman. Apparently, he rarely shows up at Democratic Party meetings -- even when they are selecting a candidate.

What is fascinating about this article is that Committeeman races rarely get covered by the major media. But the Tribune seems to be saying that this is a top tier race, deserving of its coverage. That helps Ira. It recognizes that Ira is a credible candidate more than capable of taking Stone down.

Makes you wonder if Mike Noonan (or the Committeemen from the neighboring wards) is going to ride in on his white horse and save Stone a second time in a year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ira Silverstein Runs for Committeeman

Today, Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein did Ald. Stone the courtesy of telling him that he would run against Stone for 50th Ward Democratic Committeeman. Stone has held the Committeeman's job since 1999, when Howie Carroll resigned.

The role of the Committeeman is to run the local party, including encouraging voting, registration and filling the party's election judges, as well as participate in running the city and county party organizations. In Chicago, being the alderman and committeeman has been a powerful combination - and few are respected unless they serve both functions. But Stone has been a lackluster committeeman, to say the least.

All three of the Cook County Democratic meetings that I've attended, Stone didn't show. Regulars who attend party meetings know that Stone will fall asleep if he does come, and he rarely has input anyway. He does what he is told. When the party choose Todd Stroger to fill in for his ailing father for County Commission Board President, Stone sent a proxy - in support of Todd. Just like he was told.

Voter registration in the ward is among the lowest in the city. There are very good reasons for this: it's too much work for Stone and his organization and it would dilute the power Stone has in the ward. For want of a good party organization, Democrats in West Rogers Park have to look elsewhere.

Stone has created a culture of corruption around his party organization. He demanded that election judges pass his petitions during the general election in 2006. There were repeated calls to the State's Attorney and Chicago Board of Elections because of the numerous violations by Stone's workers.

By contrast, Ira Silverstein was the first Democrat not endorsed (or slated) by the Democratic organization to win a Northside Senate seat since 1972. He has served us ably in the state legislature, and now offers himself up to lend his good name to the Democratic label here in the 50th. A strong family man with good values has to be a better choice than what we have now.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Devine Won't Run

As reported here (first, according to one poster) early last month, Dick Devine has decided to retire.

Crain's reports:

"After three terms it is time to move on," Mr. Devine said in the statement. "My plans are to continue to run this office with its proud tradition and great people in professional manner."

AP says,

Devine was elected as the county's top prosecutor in November 1996 and took office the following month.

He has personally prosecuted several recent high-profile cases, including the conviction of Juan Luna in the Brown's Chicken and Pasta massacre.

Devine says he plans to continue to run the office, which has more than 900 prosecutors, until his term ends.

According to his biography, Devine has argued cases before the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and twice appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Plans are said to include a few years in private practice where he should be well rewarded.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Little Birdie Dept

We hear that Greg Brewer and his wife will be attending tonight's AFL-CIO Presidential Debate at Soldier Field. I don't think Greg is a Union member (he's an architect), but no one should be surprised that Greg's been invited. Endorsed by the AFL-CIO's counterpart in Chicago (the CFL), Greg was recognized for his support of Union issues and interests.

No word on whether Ald. Stone will attend. As an elected official, he was offered two tickets to the event, but one has to wonder whether he is healthy enough to withstand this sort of outing. And I don't know that Naisy Dolar was even invited. She had rather strained relations with the Unions during the campaign.