* 11:25 am - Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski has died. He’s been ill for quite a while.
Ald. Dick Mell’s office just confirmed that the viewing will be Monday at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, which is at Noble and Evergreen in Chicago. The funeral will be at the church on Tuesday.
Try to keep the comments respectful. Yeah, he did what he did, but the man is dead now.
…Adding… From Speaker Madigan…
“Dan Rostenkowski devoted his life to his community, Chicago and the state. His accomplishments are many. His efforts on behalf of the regular people who needed a friend to wade through the tangle of government are unparalleled.
“Shirley and I offer his family our deepest sympathies and prayers.”
At the federal level, they have a compliant grand jury and all the investigative tools they need: the agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and every other federal agency. Plus eager assistants who will send their own grannies up the river to enhance their careers.
And the most dangerous and ruthless are those prosecutors who have political ambitions that are most easily fulfilled by hanging a well-known public figure.
That’s what did Rostenkowski in - a federal prosecutor’s personal ambitions. If I could put those federal headhunters on a lie box and ask: “Do you really believe that what he did was a terrible crime?” and they said “Yes,” the needle would clang when it went past the marking for “liar, liar, pants on fire.”
So now Rostenkowski goes to prison for a year or so. And the TV cameras go on the Chicago streets and ask people what they think.
And without having read one word of evidence, some glassy-eyed mope says, “Well, he did wrong and he gotta pay for it, right?”
Lord, please let a hard-nosed cop grab that mope the next time he runs a red.
Also, The Volokh Conspiracy published a very insightful story about the infamous incident with the angry senior citizens that’s mentioned in Marin’s piece.
Many of his friends and supporters saw the conviction as a farce. Sun-Times political columnist Steve Neal called it “wrong and vengeful.”
“Dan Rostenkowski unfortunately ended his career with legal problems,” the famously-upright Sen. Paul Simon noted in his memoirs, “but his contributions as chairman of Ways and Means helped the nation immensely. He had a quality not in abundance, backbone.”
Rostenkowski was issued a full and complete pardon by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
Survivors include his wife LaVerne, daughters Dawn, Kristie and Gayle — who all shortened their names to Rosten. One daughter, Stacy Rosten-McDarrah died of kidney ailment in 2007.
The wake will be held from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, 1255 North Noble Street. Funeral services are scheduled at the church at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Interment will follow at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles.
Some of the old-timers believe Rostenkowski took the fall for an underling. We’ll probably never know.
…Adding still more… For the other side of Rostenkowski’s career, check the Reader, which has excerpted several harsh, anti-Rostenkowski stories, including this one…
Rostenkowski and Gabinski controlÂled their villagers with the stick of brute force and fearmongering and the carrot of services like garbage collection and snow removal. On election day they sent out thick-necked patronage workers to lurk outside polling places, passing out palm cards and intimidating the locals so they wouldn’t stray from the fold. If intimidation didn’t work, there was always the race card. During the 1983 mayoral race, Rostenkowski and Gabinski put their support behind every white candidate who ran against Harold Washington—even a Republican, Bernie Epton. It was their way of letting the little people know they weren’t going to let the blacks take over.
…More… From Congressman Quigley, who represents Rostenkowski’s old district…
“Today, I offer my deepest condolences to the Rostenkowski family. Dan served the 5th District of Illinois for three and a half decades, and I join with his former and now my constituents in thanking him for his public service. Chicago and the nation have lost a political giant.”
…Still more… From Senate President John Cullerton, who ran against Rostenkowski in the 1994 Democratic primary…
“Dan Rostenkowski was a legendary Congressman and figure in Illinois. I had the pleasure of first working with him back in 1976 as part of the national convention delegation. He was one of the most productive
members of Congress and should be applauded for his work to bring federal investments back to Chicago for the benefit of all of Illinois.”
“He was a larger-than-life political figure whose legacy of accomplishments will outlive his years on this Earth.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
- Dan Johnson-Weinberger - Wednesday, Aug 11, 10 @ 11:30 am:
His leadership in the 1986 tax reform package to eliminate thousands of loopholes and simplify the tax code was a great boon to the national economy.
A deeply misunderstood man, a very kind heart. He did what he did, but he also did a lot of good.
- Commonsense in Illinois - Wednesday, Aug 11, 10 @ 11:33 am:
Got to meet him a couple of time. First time on a plane from ORD to National…he came in sat down, introduced himself and we just chatted to two hours away on a wide range of things. Very friendly and somewhat gregarious guy, but never haughty. Glad I got the chance to know him in that environment.
Dan Rostenkowski was one of the giants in Chicago politics over the past sixty years. However you wish to remember him, evidence of his appropriations work dots the landscape and will for years to come.
NT, agreed. Rosti at first didn’t think anybody would want to hear what he had to say, but Thom Serafin and others (I played a small role myself) convinced him otherwise. While there is that problem in his past, he truly understood politics like almost nobody else.
One of the things that people may remember most about him was the incident when a group of super-angry senior citizens surrounded his car because they were furious about a new law. Rosti got out of his car and was chased a block. One elderly woman even jumped on the hood of his car.
What Congress had done was enact catastrophic and prescription drug coverage, but made seniors pay for it.
Rosty’s ‘86 tax reform was his capstone. What needs to also be remembered is that literally the moment he left Congress at the end of 1994, the tax reform started being unraveled; first with the 1997 loopholes and tax-breaks for “investment” (defined basically as equities and property speculation) and then with further exemptions and run-arounds. After 16 years of this, we’re back to where we were when Rosty did his work in the 1980s.
In the volokh piece his press secretary sounds genius.
“”The TV news ran footage of Rostenkowski fleeing from his constituents. Rostenkowski reportedly asked his press secretary whether the issue would go away in a few days, and was told “Let me put it this way Congressman. When you die, they will play this clip on television.” Three months later, the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was repealed.”"
Dan Rostenkowski was a giant in Chicago, and left a mark that will endure for generations.
Somewhere he and Ted Stevens are plotting a strategy to send home all kinds of heavenly pork.
May they both rest in peace.
- Ghost of John Brown - Wednesday, Aug 11, 10 @ 1:05 pm:
Thanks for the reminder to everyone to keep it respectful - too many people just don’t get that.
Even though he was on the opposite side of the aisle, Rosty was a tremenously effective legislator. After the conviction, he appeared regularly on TV during election night coverage. He always had a prescient take on things.
Royko couldn’t have described the Feds better. I met Rosty a couple times and saw both sides. The good was better than the bad. U.S. benefited; we all benefited. The new congresscritters don’t often compare favorably.
- Jake from Elwood - Wednesday, Aug 11, 10 @ 2:44 pm:
Rosty left his stamp on Chicago politics, that’s for sure.
A tremendously interesting man. I hope that all the obits don’t put the criminal conviction up front. Royko’s article was pretty dead on.
I wish more of the State’s Dems had his political know how. Compare his abilities to MJM’s utter failure to come up with a workable budget for the last two years. First, I can’t see him totally excluding the R’s from any serious negotiations like MJM has. Second, I can’t see him trying to blame the minority party for the majority’s failure to come up with new revenue.
- Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Aug 11, 10 @ 5:35 pm:
I just read the Chicago Mag story of the friendship that developed between him and Marty Cook. That should be made into a movie. I strongly recommend people interested in Rosty to read it.
Eric Holder! Wow, I honestly did not remember that. Mike Royko’s astute insights are particularly relevant to us today. The present congress would not be so despised if it was headed by Tip ONeal at Speaker, instead of Pelosi, and the Country better served with Rosty heading up Ways and Means instead of the present Chairman. The DEMs have slid a long way down.
Rosty was a giant, for Chicago, Illinois and the United States. God, I miss the old timers. Serious, hard-working, real men and women, not blow-dried, purple-belt-wearing mid-market weathermen.
Remember “Write Rosty?” Reagan loved him. So did Tip, Bush I and Clinton. He got things done.
There’s a great story of Bobby Kennedy taking Rosty around after Dallas to cheer up Jackie. They were at Hickory Hill, drinking and joking. Rosty was telling stories about Milwaukee Avenue, and Jackie and Bobby were laughing their asses off.
He made some mistakes (stamps and chairs, the occasional old lady on the Caddy hood)like all human beings, but he stood up and took his punishment — and did his time — like a man. No crying. No reality TV. No excuses.
I remember standing in Daley Plaza, twenty below, when my hero, Lech, first came to Chicago after the wall came down. Big Jim gave Rosty the most stirring, heartfelt introduction I ever heard. Me and my baby were freezing to death, but we were so proud to be there.
Here’s to you, Congressman Danny. Let Rokyo buy you a boilermaker, and I’ll have one for you both on the Polish Broadway real soon.