Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forum on Budget Cuts Tomorrow

From The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park, per their request:

Dear Readers:

As local elected officials, we have an obligation to our constituents to provide them with a voice in Springfield. This year, we spoke with many local groups and organizations about their needs and concerns to help deliver improved services.

When crafted a new state budget, we worked to pass a responsible spending plan that serves those most in need, including persons with disabilities, immigrant and refugee families, the homeless and individuals suffering from AIDS. Further, we worked to provide needed funding for local schools, park districts, fire stations, municipalities, economic development and to assist our senior citizens.

This funding was secured in order to provide our most needy residents with the services they rely on. However, Gov. Rod Blagojevich disagreed. He not only cut these crucial local projects from the budget, but in doing so he insulted the integrity of many worthy community groups by labeling the funding as 'pork'.� Now the ability of these organizations to provide needed programs to the families they serve has been severely damaged.

We are hosting a community forum at 7pm on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Mundelein Center Auditorium of Loyola University, 1020 W. Sheridan Road to hear from area community organizations and local governments about how the governor's harmful budget cuts may affect their operations and ability to provide services.

We encourage anyone who is concerned about the loss of these needed projects to attend this hearing. It is important that we build the necessary support for an override of the governor's vetoes, and your attendance at this forum can help build the necessary momentum. We look forward to seeing you there.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daley "Won't Interfer" in Stone-Silverstein Race

Several weeks ago, word wafted around the neighborhood that St. Senator Silverstein had done his due diligence while deciding to run for Democratic Committeeman. Ira spoke to various power centers in the ward and the city, inquiring about whether he should run against Ald. Stone.

Several people that I've spoken with have said the same thing: Ira is a reluctant candidate against Stone, compelled to run because things have gotten so bad. The 50th Ward is in the bottom half of voter registration, and the wards that are closest to it are far more depressed economically (that may be hard to believe). Stone rarely attends party functions and generally sends his proxy. Those who set up the meetings assume that if Stone comes, he will fall asleep -- and ask those sitting near his seat to "give him a nudge" if he does fall asleep during the meeting. Stone is generally disengaged with the party and disinterested in the things required of the Democratic Committeeman.

These facts are not unknown to the Mayor or to the county party leadership. So I made inquiries to see if the rumors were true, that the Mayor would staying out of the race. Now we know: the Mayor "won't interfer" in the committeeman's race in the 50th Ward.

This is interesting because the Mayor was clearly responsible for Stone's re-election as alderman. After Haymarket had dropped Berny for being too difficult, the Mayor sent in Mike Noonan to salvage Stone's re-election. A number of ward organizations were brought in to fill the numerous holes in the Democratic Club's organization.

We hear that Ira would like to keep this race positive. That hardly seems likely given Stone's prior campaigns. Being Jewish has not kept Stone from attacking his opponents in the past. But Ira isn't an unknown quantity in the neighborhood. He really is a beloved leader. Unlike Berny, people don't pretend to love (or fear) Ira. I think it is unrealistic to expect Stone not to fiercely attack Silverstein, or to rumormonger, or to threaten him and his supporters -- but I admire Ira's belief that he can run a positive campaign against Stone.

With Mayor Daley deciding not to get involved, Ira might be right!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Devine's Office Investigating Stone

As I alluded to in comments, I don't think we have gotten the full story here, but the Sun-Times reports:

The Cook County state's attorney's office is investigating whether Ald. Bernie Stone's (50th) political organization improperly steered Indian and Pakistani voters toward absentee ballots, according to sources.

Those under investigation include city employees. For now, the probe is limited to Stone's North Side ward, the sources said. Subpoenas have been issued for witnesses and documents.

In tactics taken straight out of the ugly old days of corruption and machine politics:

Sources familiar with the matter say the state's attorney's office -- which is not barred from investigating aldermen -- is equally involved in the probe. The sources disputed Stone's claim the investigation involves other wards.

Members of Stone's organization allegedly persuaded some Indian and Pakistani voters to sign up for absentee ballots and then helped them vote, the sources said.

Political workers -- some of whom are city employees -- would visit apartment buildings to enlist absentee voters, sources said. In at least one instance, a Stone worker allegedly wore a jacket showing he was a city employee.

Stone said four people from his ward told him they were questioned about a political worker who asked them to apply for absentee ballots.

The timing for this investigation can't be helpful for Stone. Ira Silverstein is challenging him for Democratic Committeeman, and while no one knows whether this will be an issue in that campaign, the fact that Stone and the Democratic Club of the 50th Ward is under investigation for Voter Fraud is bound to prevent Stone's thugs from repeating illegal activity.

But Stone's daugher, not Federal or State investigations, is bound to be the biggest issue of this campaign. If Ira wins the committeeman position, it will be he who basically picks the replacement if Stone dies in office or retires before his term expires (after Stone has served two years and one day in this term). As long as Stone is committeeman, Ilana is virtually assured of being Stone's replacement under those circumstances. But with Ira, the 50th Ward will turn a new page and the neighborhood will finally get a voice in politics in the ward.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stone Investigated for Vote Fraud

Did Bernie Stone steal the last election?

Voters in West Ridge/West Rogers Park have long suspected that there was something funny about Ald. Stone's vote gathering efforts. The amount of support you hear for him out on the streets and what he received at the ballot box always seemed at odds.

Now, we understand Stone is being investigated for his use of absentee ballots:

Stone said that a man and a woman who live in his ward contacted him separately to report they had been subpoenaed to appear at the Cook County Court complex at 26th Street and California Avenue. The man said his wife and two daughters also were ordered to appear. The subpoenas were served by an IG staff member who left his card, Stone said, but when his constituents arrived at the court complex, he said they were interviewed by two assistant state's attorneys.

The questions centered on absentee ballots and whether their votes had been solicited by anyone and whether anybody else cast their votes, the alderman said.

Stone's precinct captains had previously bragged that they would deliver 2,000 absentee votes for Stone before the recent elections. They never reached this total, but they did generate about half that goal.

Voter Fraud techniques used by the Machine in Chicago has previously been documented by Peter Zelchenko's book, It Happened Four Years Ago. Stone's efforts appear to be similarly guided. We will follow this developing story closely.