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TII: This Is Illinois

Monday, Jan 26, 2009

* The top of the story….

Fifteen hours and 46 minutes. That’s how long the clout-heavy law firm of Chico & Nunes spent as Springfield lobbyists for the Chicago Christian Industrial League, the homeless shelter where Gov. Blagojevich’s wife Patti worked as a fund-raiser until she was fired last week.

The law firm headed by Mayor Daley’s former chief of staff Gery Chico disclosed its lobbying relationship with the league on papers filed with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White at 6:02 p.m. Dec. 4.

Chico’s firm ended the relationship the following morning — the day the Chicago Tribune reported that the feds had secretly recorded Blagojevich.

Oops. The explanation is that the filing was made in error. They never intended to lobby the state, just the city, was the explanation offered.

The bottom of the story…

Chico helped the governor’s wife get her job at the league last summer. And his law firm hosted a campaign fund-raiser for Blagojevich the night before he was arrested by the FBI.

* Jumping into Illinois and Chicago politics (they may have actually been pushed) has turned out to be a huge mistake for the Chicago Christian Industrial League. Not only did they hire the governor’s wife at a six-figure salary, and Gery Chico as their lobbyist, but here’s more

A decade ago, David Ariola owned a South Loop gym where Mayor Daley worked out.

Today, the businessman serves on Daley’s Community Development Commission, making recommendations on every proposal for city tax-increment financing — the multimillion-dollar program Daley has used to build offices, stores, schools and other projects across Chicago.

As one of 15 members of the unpaid city advisory board, Ariola supported the mayor’s plan to spend more than $13.5 million to build a $25.2 million homeless shelter for the Chicago Christian Industrial League — a charity that had sold its longtime home in Greektown to Daley’s friend Michael Marchese for a luxury condo development.

Ariola’s Chicago Realty Co. was later hired by the league to oversee construction of the homeless shelter — a project that has left the league in financial trouble, unable to pay a $10.8 million loan it got to finish the project.

And now they’re broke.

* I wouldn’t call any of these people gangsters, that wouldn’t be right. But what happened to the Christian Industrial League since it was “nudged” into moving out of its old digs and into a new building looks almost like a classic case of how the Outfit takes over a restaurant. First, they demand free food and drinks, then they force the owner to buy a bunch of supplies on credit and sell them out the back door for cash profit. Then the restaurant is burned to the ground to collect the insurance.

As I’ve often said, the mob and Illinois politics both operate under the ancient system devised by the Roman Legion

“You were around the old-timers who dreamed up how the Families should be organized, how they based it on the old Roman legions and called them Regimes, Capos, and Soldiers. And it worked.”

* Semi-related…

* It pays to be a friend of Blagojevich

* Governor’s pick for DNR chief doesn’t inspire much hope

* IDOT subpoenaed in Blago case

* Feds subpoena Blagojevich about contacts with Axelrod, Jarrett

* Fitzgerald’s inflammatory comments an ethical lapse

- Posted by Rich Miller        


9 Comments
  1. - On Fitzgerald... - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 10:11 am:

    there was no ethical lapse by Fitzgerald - contrary to the linked column by Trowbridge. Trowbridge likes to say he was chief of staff for Warren Burger when in reality he was CoS for the bicentennial commission that merely handed out buttons, pamphlets, etc. Trowbridge was neither a lawyer nor a judge.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    The Outfit has been a partner in Illinois politics, Democrat and Republican, since Prohibition.

    They’ve had associates in Congress, the GA, the City Council, City Hall departmens, Village Halls, sheriff’s offices, the courts, police departments, everywhere. The Outfit leverages its access and position to make money and reward friendly politicians.

    Read Gus Russo’s “The Outfit,” and “Supermob,” Robert Cooley’s “When Corruption was King,” and any of former FBI agent Bill Roemer’s books.

    The CCIL bustout has some legs. I’m sure the feds will get to it eventually. Too much smoke, too many interesting names to be ignored.


  3. - Zora - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 11:58 am:

    This is an important story that I hope won’t be lost in the impeachment drama. For starters, the $25.2 million budget for CCIL’s new shelter is crying out for review. Must have been some fine rooftop gardens and wrought iron gates in those plans. Maybe a waterless urinal?


  4. - Bubs - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 12:57 pm:

    Rich, while properly not calling anyone a “ganster”, you wouldn’t otherwise be trying to insinuate that there somehow are linkages between the Outfit and the Chicago Democratic Machine?

    My Goodness Gracious! I am shocked and appalled to think that such a thing could ever be thought, much less be true.

    Shocked.

    Appalled.


  5. - Captain America - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 12:58 pm:

    It’s really a shame about the plight of the Chicago Christian Industrail League.

    Any difference between organized crime and old-style Democratic politics practiced in Bridgeport and other similar old school environs in Chicago is purely coincidental and skin deep. It’s amazing what is legal! The fix and squeeze affect almost everything. Everything and everyone is connected by hook or by crook.

    I concur with Wordslinger’s recommendation of Russo’s books - The Outfit and Supermob. Cooley’s book is also very interesting! It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between legitimate and illegitimate enterprises in Chicago.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 1:49 pm:

    Let’s not give the GOP a pass here. The Outfit is historically bipartisan.

    The Maltese organization in Cicero was GOP, as are a number of west suburban Cook villages with strong ties to the Outfit.

    Dick Cain, a made guy, managed to be right-hand man to both Sheriff Dick Ogilvie and Sam Giancana at the same time.

    Rocco Infelise was caught on tape by the feds bragging that he protected his gambling operations with $10,000 a month payoffs to Jimmy Dvorak, chairman of the Cook County GOP.

    Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar managed to re-appoint John Serpico to head the Illinois International Port District (Calumet Harbor, but mostly a golf course) long after he and his Laborers union had been called out as mobbed up by President Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime.

    And let’s not forget the pioneers — Alphonse Capone and the man who let him run wild, Big Bill Thompson, Chicago’s last GOP mayor.


  7. - Bubs - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 3:03 pm:

    It’s just shows how superficial and amateurish the Republicans were, that you even know that stuff.

    Real pros keep it all well hidden under many layers of concealment, “legitimate” hires, buried city contracts, and marriages.

    Like in this town.


  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 5:13 pm:

    Bubs, what town is that? Democrats have been just as tied up with the Outfit forever. Previous commenters had said it was a Chicago Democrat problem, which it has been. But my point is that the GOP has been there, too.

    Like I said, the Outfit is bipartisan.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 26, 09 @ 5:17 pm:

    wordslinger is right, which is why I wrote “Illinois politics” and not “Chicago Democratic politics.”


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