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Two opinions on Ford

Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012

* Dan Haley, the editor and publisher of the Wednesday Journal, a paper out of Oak Park, wrote a surprisingly strong column defending indicted state Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) this week

But here are the more telling facts: The houses LaShawn Ford bought to fix up and resell were all completed. He didn’t pocket the money and let the houses rot. He fixed the houses as he planned, and until the real estate market collapsed, he sold the homes and made payments on his line to the bank.

Sure, it isn’t good to owe a note to a casino. But the release of that fact by the feds is intended to suggest that Ford was living large and far past his means. That doesn’t seem the case. He lives in a modest home in “The Island” neighborhood of Austin. That’s south of the Ike and is about the most working class housing you can find.

What seems likely is that with Shore Bank’s failure, the FDIC scoured the bank’s books and came across the name of an elected official. They turned this modest case over to a U.S. Attorney’s Office that focuses lasers on hints of improprieties among the elected. And that led to this. Keep in mind that these charges go back to a time before Ford had even been elected to office. This isn’t political wrongdoing like all the rest of the Democratic hacks who’ve disgraced the West Side by selling their offices and have rightly gone to prison.

So why do I care? Because for 17 years we’ve published the Austin Weekly News and I’ve seen the greed and contempt of elected officials as they plundered the public purse while Austin reeled with crime and lousy schools and decaying services. It has been appalling.

And I know, because I’ve been there, that LaShawn Ford is different — different and better and decent at his core. He’s not a machine hack. He’s a fine man, almost certainly imperfect, but a person who is in government for all the reasons that should make us proud. This man talks about real issues of violence and guns, about education and opportunity. He doesn’t talk cautiously, craftily. He talks honestly and from the experience of living. He is present. He is visible. He knows real people and he listens well.

We could be jaded and say he got caught even if the wrong was small, common and mostly unintentional. So now he has to pay and we’ll move on to the next petty hack the machine serves up. Or we could be hopeful, perhaps even a bit naïve, and demand that actual justice — as in service and honor — be done and that a path gets cleared for LaShawn Ford to continue his work, perhaps humbled, but still strong and true.

This is a fight worth fighting. This is a man to stand up for.

* Contrast that opinion of a man who knows Ford to the opinion of one who doesn’t

Another Chicago politician has been indicted, this one for bank fraud after he allegedly burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars that weren’t his on casino gambling, car loans and other high-rolling pursuits.

Illinois state Rep. LaShawn Ford, a Democrat, has not been convicted.

Still, blowing cash that isn’t yours so you can play Mr. Highlife is almost like saying, “I want to win the Moutza of the Month for November!” Isn’t it?

The ancient Moutza has nothing to do with the American finger, but everything to do with taxpayer contempt. And when we hapless taxpaying chumbolones extend our hands to such weasels, we offer the flat of our palms, our fingers spread wide. The Moutza.

“I believe I am innocent of the charges brought against me today,” Ford said in a statement Thursday.

That’s nice. We believe you, Rep. Highlife.

But we also believe in unicorns with long silvery flowing manes, and little forest imps with hairy feet who go on quests for golden treasure held by the evil dragon Smaug.

Mr. Ford, would you please talk to the hand? It’s pointed right at your face. See?

Nah!

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


29 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    John Kass is a one-trick pony whose column is little more than a long-form version of Sneed. He recycles the same schtick over and over again. He is neither journalist nor reporter and does little more than churn out baseless insinuations to pander to his (inexplicable) readership.

    Compounding his inane writings is his hypocrisy. He goes after people based on personal and family relationships while conveniently ignoring his very close connections to Eddie Vrdolyak or his familial relationship to indicted former Niles Mayor Nick Blase.

    His talents are better suited for a blog written in somebody’s basement than a column in a major newspaper. And yet, we have to endure him on a regular basis. For that, Mother Tribune deserves a Moutzah of the Year.


  2. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    If the crimes is as small as the Wednesday Observers asserts, it is strange that the U. S. Attorney’s office would treat it the way they are.

    Clearly Mr. Hale likes Rep. Ford, but the reality may be different than the facts he knows. Time will tell whether the first or second view of Mr. Ford’s behavior is accurate.


  3. - reformer - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    I wonder if Mr Kass would ever want for himself the benefit of the doubt that he denies to LaShawn? Or should the rest of us just assume the worst about Kass, since that’s what he’s doing?

    I’m reminded of the verse in Matthew 7: “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”


  4. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:39 am:

    John Kass is a mean-spirited johnny-one-note.

    Kass has his grand theory of how things work and he fits every story into it.

    Kass doesn’t bother to find out details that do fit into his pet theory.

    And Kass is basically irrelevant. I never hear his name mentioned as writing anything insightful. The only time I’m aware that Kass has a column is when he’s getting mocked on this blog.

    If the Trib were trying to stay relevant Kass would have been replaced ages ago.


  5. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    As for Kass calling Ford “Mr. Highlife” here’s a challenge:

    Let’s compare the house Kass lives in to the house Ford lives in.

    Let’s compare the car Kass drives to the car Ford drives.

    I virtually guarantee that Kass lives a more luxurious life than Ford.

    But when you’re the mouthpiece for cranky rich White people, there are perks.


  6. - Hon. John Fritchey - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    I understand that people, especially elected officials, are quick to distance themselves from individuals who find themselves accused of wrongdoing. But I will say this - shortly after Rep. Ford won his first Primary, I invited him to lunch to get to know him. From that first meeting, I found him to be a sincere and dedicated individual who really cared about doing the job right.

    While I was in the Legislature, I had opportunities to work on issues with LaShawn and to watch his work both in Springfield and back in his district. While he made some usual rookie missteps, it was clear that he had a passion for his job that outpaced many of our colleagues and that he wanted to improve the lives of the people who he represented.

    Does this mean that he didn’t do anything wrong? Of course not. I don’t know any more about the case than does the rest of the public. But I will say this, it would be a mistake to paint him with the same brush used to describe previous corrupt politicians. He isn’t a hack. He isn’t a charlatan. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find that at the end of the day, he isn’t guilty.


  7. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    HA! I didn’t even click on the link since I figured that was Kass being an…well, being himself. And I agree with Carl–if the Tribune wants to be taken seriously, it really ought to get rid of Kass.


  8. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    I read Haley’s op-ed on the train this morning and know Dan to be fair when judging the behavior of our public officials…the man is innocent until he’s proven guilty…


  9. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    I agree with Fritchey, and thank him for his open comments.

    Ford spent his professional time rehabbing houses as part of his overall drive to improve the lives of the people of his community, which he carries forward into the legislature. There, Ford responsibly champions what he calls “Social Justice” as his overall mission, and I have been proud to know him for that. He is not a hack.

    I don’t know what he did or didn’t do related to the allegations. I do know that he got caught up in the worst Real Estate crash in decades, along with many others, and was looked at only after a bank failure managed by the Feds.


  10. - Jim - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    It appears to me that the positions of John Kass have been vindicated repeatedly. Can’t say the same for the defenders and minimizers of corruption who contribute to this blog.


  11. - so... - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    Keeping in mind that Rep Ford has a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise…

    IF what the Feds allege is true, I think people are being a little to quick to excuse or explain away what Ford is accused of doing.

    Yes, Wall Street bankers taking terrible loans and selling them as AAA securities was a significant factor in the collapse of the economy. But so were people like Ford, who lied on their mortgage applications in order to obtain more credit than their income and credit history would normally support.

    When a bank like Shorebank collapses because of too many bad loans like those to Rep Ford, it costs each and every one of us, because the FDIC has to step in and make the depositors whole.

    Assuming the Feds are correct, is Ford an arch-criminal? No. But some people seem to be trying to dismiss what he is accused of doing as an offense on the level of jaywalking, and it’s not.


  12. - OneMan - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    Can’t say the same for the defenders and minimizers of corruption who contribute to this blog.

    Well, even if the charges are true, is he ‘corrupt’? That is did he use his office or position to facilitate or aid what he is accused of doing?

    A State Rep might be catching fish over the legal limit or stealing money out of charity baskets and therefore be a criminal, but that is different than being corrupt.


  13. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    I would argue that neither columnist knows the truth, and the prudent thing to do is wait until more details emerge.


  14. - Jim - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 11:25 am:

    Isn’t one of the allegations that he used his loan proceeds to pay campaign expenses?


  15. - vise77 - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    More Mad Libs from Kass. Despite what Ford did or did not do, it appears Kass these days never leaves his couch to, you know, actually do reporting. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.

    And yeah, Kass is very mean-spirited and, essentially, a keyboard bully. No one ever taught him the difference between being tough and merely acting macho.


  16. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 12:11 pm:

    Even if Mr. Ford is “a fine man”, lust for power can persuade fine men to do funny things - like allegedly falsifying tax documents and using proceeds from bank fraud to help fund his first big campaign for political office.

    After all, a fine man can do a lot of good once he’s in office. Getting there is the tricky part.


  17. - reformer - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 12:24 pm:

    Those of us who, like Fritchey, know and have worked with LaShawn, hold him in high esteem. We hope the charges are untrue, and — unless and until they are proven — give him the same benefit of the doubt each of us would like if we were in his shoes.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 12:42 pm:

    Pluto, make an effort.

    It’s the Wednesday Journal, not the Wednesday Observers (where did that come from?).

    The man’s name is Haley, not Hale.

    –It appears to me that the positions of John Kass have been vindicated repeatedly.–

    Really? Some examples, please.

    Here’s a column celebrating Richard Mourdock’s victory over Dick Lugar. Do you see any vindication there?

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-10/news/ct-met-kass-0510-20120510_1_lugar-tea-party-washington-establishment

    Haley works and invests in Austin. He’s there every day. He casts a true conservative’s watchful eye on the incredible power of the Justice Department. He question’s authority, as a journalist should.

    Kass is a know-nothing hack who never wanders more than a few blocks from Michigan and Wacker for his extended lunches. He let Fast Eddie write his column for years, and worshiped at the altar of Saint Patrick of Fitzgerald.

    The dude can’t even get a Tea Party whacko gig on WGN radio. That says a lot.


  19. - phocion - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 12:59 pm:

    I’m torn about Haley’s article. It’s nice that he defends someone he admires. I’m left to wonder, however, if that person was a “machine hack” whether Haley would be so charitable with the same allegations at play.


  20. - Jim - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    Wordslinger says Kass let Ed Vyrdolyak write his columns for years. Now there is a substantive criticism — not! That’s a mindless comment.
    Anybody who ever reads Kass knows Fast Eddie is one of his routine targets. But that’s what I’m talking about — there’s kind of a frequent knee-jerk reaction to attacks on the corrupt status quo. Besides, Fitzgerald did great work — if you don’t like the state’s culture of corruption.


  21. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    Jim @ 1:06

    You must be reading a different Chicago Tribune with a different columnist named John Kass (possibly in a parallel universe). While John Kass may have taken a few minor side-swipes at Eddie V., he hardly laid a glove on him with regards to the Dr. Scholls/Stuart Levine/bollixed sentencing/federal prison stint.


  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    –Anybody who ever reads Kass knows Fast Eddie is one of his routine targets.–

    You can’t be serious.


  23. - Jim - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    I read the same John Kass as you — the Wordslinger’s charge is that Vrdolyak wrote Kass’ column. You have to concede that Fast Eddie was just a small part of the whole Blago/Levine/Rezko thing.


  24. - IrishPirate - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    I LOVE John Kass.

    The short staccato sentences.

    The rat a tat tat commentary.

    Beer Can Chicken!

    His unpaid PR gig for the “Two Pats R Sure”. That would be Fitzgerald and Collins of DOJ fame.

    His “everyman” schtick.

    His “Chia Obama” allusions.

    His wrongly maligned efforts to take difficult and complex issues and make them seem as simple as ordering a steak at Gene and Georgetti’s steak house.

    I even LOVED how the other day he gave credit to a Tribune reporter for breaking a story about the upcoming Vanecko indictment.

    Now the Tribune has done some work on that little mess, but the real credit goes to some folks at the Sun Times.

    Sometimes Kass seems to think he’s starring in his own made for TV movie about JOHN KASS.

    He seems to think of himself as a modern day King Leonidas holding the pass at the federal tower from the encroaching hordes of the combine.

    Seriously though he did criticize the former “mare” of Niles who was related to him by marriage and went to the federal pokie and he has
    been critical of Vdrolyak.

    As you may have guessed I’m not a big fan of Kass, but he’s hardly as noxious as Michael Sneed.

    Small praise indeed.


  25. - Lobo Y Olla - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    “A State Rep might be catching fish over the legal limit or stealing money out of charity baskets and therefore be a criminal, but that is different than being corrupt.”

    I thought Rich hated semantics arguments…….


  26. - ZC - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 2:12 pm:

    Any columnist is only good at his sources, and Kass’s all retired, moved to the suburbs, died or went to prison. And Kass hasn’t bothered to cultivate any new ones. He lives off the Tribune’s copy and fades into irrelevance - and he Was really good, long ago. He was never as good as Royko but in their declining years he’s just as bad.


  27. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    FWIW, Ford’s district more suburban than city and it’s western most edge not very far from Kass’s house in Western Springs (if Kass still there) http://lashawnford.com/districtmap.htm As for Ford and the Bank, its hard to be tough on Bank lending practices and then let what Ford allegedly did here in the indictment slide. If you want more responsible lending practices, this is pretty tough to take. It would be interesting to see what became of these rehabbed properties and how rehabbed they really were.


  28. - IrishPirate - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 2:49 pm:

    I ran across this takedown of John Kass a few weeks back

    http://brucejquiller.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/john-kass-the-chicago-tribunes-man-for-all-seasons/

    I don’t know ANYTHING about the writer so if he turns out to be a nutjob please forgive me as I don’t have a “legman” to track down any info on him.


  29. - Boone Logan Square - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 7:24 pm:

    Why did I know the second quote would be from Kass even before I started reading? He’s an automation at this point.


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