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Cicero ramblings

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013

* The Sun-Times lede says it all

Cicero voters Tuesday ignored allegations of corruption, sexual harassment and nepotism in town hall and overwhelmingly re-elected Larry Dominick for a third term as the leader of the hardscrabble western suburb.

An effective political machine that also delivers governmentally for residents and functions pretty well is almost never undone by negative media reports. And, man, was there ever a ton of negative media on Dominick. Even his own brothers jumped into the fray against him.

* It’s when things go bad for residents that the great leaders are sometimes brought down. Mayor Daley over-stayed his welcome. Things turned sour. He ran out of ideas. The city stopped “working.” His poll numbers plunged. But he wasn’t defeated. He retired. If he’d wanted to stay, he probably could’ve. Who would have challenged him? And with what?

Remember how the media pummeled Cook County Assessor candidate Joe Berrios a while back and praised Forrest Claypool up and down as a real deal reformer? Claypool got trounced. Not even close.

* Also, it was pretty apparent to anybody with eyes that the media’s attempt to make Dominick’s opponent Juan Ochoa into some sort of reformer wasn’t exactly all that honest. As “bad” as Dominick is, Ochoa was no white hat. From Ray Hanania in comments yesterday

[Cook County Clerk David Orr] complained about signs but did nothing when we complained four weeks ago about suspicious absentee balloting by Ochoa’s campaign workers, including ballots filled from vacant lots, dead voters and gang members in prison.


* To give you an idea of how strong the Cicero machine is, the town is 86.6% Latino, according to the Census. Ochoa, a Latino, couldn’t oust Dominick, who is definitely not a Latino.

Back to the Sun-Times article

Ochoa, the former head of McPier and of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was expected to win support of the Latino community.

Yeah, well, that isn’t what happened. At all. Dominick got 60 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

* From a Wordslinger comment yesterday

I’ll tell you one thing: they treat their seniors like royalty [in Cicero]. My mother-in-law was in fantastic, brand-new senior township housing with incredible service — cleaning, rides to the store, home nurses, turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc.

And they helped her vote, too, right in the complex, lol.

That was in Betty’s day. And she loved her some Betty. They all did.

And now they love them some Dominick, no matter what journalists, columnists and editorial writers say or predict.

* Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    I really don’t see why it’s surprising that Latinos don’t automatically vote for Latinos, or blacks for blacks or whites for whites, etc. We may not be completely past thinking that way, but we’re getting there.

  2. - Mike Noonan - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    Larry not only won, but he beat Ochoa among Hispanic voters. Just goes to show…Good government is good politics

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    Taps were played for OchoDocho when he tried to give Blagoofers the McPier bond biz and campaign cash
    LittleLouie got drubbed when he went for SKippy in November..guess some never learn.
    Meanwhile the impact of the media and others choking on burnt Burttips remains in question.
    Fire,Aim, Ready!

  4. - Palos Park Bob - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Cicero also has a rep for bipartisan “pinstripe patronage”. Any political organization that can dole out six figure “public relations” dollars to devout Dems like Ray H. and his wife and ALSO give fat consultant contracts to uber Republican Dan Proft, is certainly an ‘equal opportunity” patronage machine!LOL

  5. - Elo Kiddies - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Turn out in Cicero was really abysmal. A town of 85K people and only 10K to 12K vote? It’s been that way for at least the last 4 town elections. They had maybe 15K votes in the 2012 presidential. Larry Dominick won with the votes of 7% of the town’s residents. It’s not that Latinos didn’t vote for Ochoa or any Latino candidate; it’s that so many people there sat home.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    The “Organizations” that were best, did the government best, and when it was time to remind the voters, the voters were more than willing to thank the “Precinct Captain” with their votes.

    The Worst … feeling a precinct volunteer can have is seeing the local Precinct Captain know every voters name, their kids’ names, the “how was that tree trim you got last week, ok?” or “Did that garbage can come like I said (knowing it was delivered)”

    Those days are fading, faded, dark … except for a “Cicero”.

    I enjoyed the quote, don’t remember who it was, wether it was Ochoa himself or one of his that…

    “All the streets were plowed early, except in precincts we expected to do well.”

    It’s said that Cicero is in some sort of “time warp/time freeze”. Dominick proved that using the “Old School” ways and defeated an ethnic candidate, not only overall, but in his constituency.

    There is a romance about thought of the old “Organizations” but the pitfall is thinkg that daydream still exists when you see Cicero “live” this dream, this romance with its “Organization” and the voters who love them.

    It’s special now because it’s rare, not just special.

    “Hello Mrs. Jones. I know you son voted “absentee”, when will we see your husband? I was glad to see the alley was paved in time for your new garage getting put up. Well, go in and vote, if you need anything, just shout.”

    You hear something like that 200 times from 6an-7pm at a polling place, you need a bootle of Tums, not just one.

    Tip your hat. Dominick’s Crew got it done, and it’s not even 1974 in Cicero yet.

  7. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    The voters voted themselves rich at others expense and they know they want to keep living at others expense, regardless of who gets hurt, how corrupt their candidates are, or anything else. Good government be damned, times are tough and they don’t care who gets hurt.

    When a government gets big and is the one who gives out enough goodies to live off of, voter priorities change, regardless of corruption.

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:42 pm:

    OK, I understood everything except this…

    ===choking on burnt Burttips===


  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    There are still some duchies out in the Western burbs. Get a-hold of some power and start doling out contracts and jobs. Beats being one of 50 alderman.

    The crown jewel, of course, is Rosemont. A gated community of 4,200 with that tax base? All those hotels and office buildings need all sorts of services.

    So much money. You’ve got one Stephens as mayor of Rosemont, the other as chairman of Triton College. You can help out all sorts of people with that kind of power.

  10. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:04 pm:

    Rich, you hit the nail square on the head: “An effective political machine that also delivers governmentally for residents and functions pretty well….” As soon as government appears in disarray , the potholes go unfilled, etc., things go downhill. If Dominick can keep the feds out, his opponents will be toast.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    (Frantically searching the ‘SFS Handbook’…)

    Yeah, I got nothing on that “burnt Burttips”

    Odelson? Nataurs? Burt Ward (Robin)?

  12. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    === It’s not that Latinos didn’t vote for Ochoa or any Latino candidate; it’s that so many people there sat home. ===

    Good point.

  13. - Woody - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:30 pm:

    “Remember how the media pummeled Cook County Assessor candidate Joe Berrios a while back and praised Forrest Claypool up and down as a real deal reformer? Claypool got trounced. Not even close. ”

    Claypool got trounced because NO ONE believed the media’s “Claypool as a reformer” narrative.

    I don’t mind journalistic license, but c’mon…trying to pass ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ off as ‘Gone With The Wind’ is way too over the top, even for the Chicago electorate.

  14. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    Nothing on Burttips here either, guys.

  15. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    This is also an example of how fast things can change yet stay the same. Forty years ago the town was 85%+ Polish. As the old guard moved or died off, Latinos were moving in. My uncle was an alderman there for years. Betty came out of his world. He always said his job was to be a ‘fixer’, making sure the locals got what they needed. His favors were always returned. His funeral was huge. I have no doubt someone has that job today.

  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    –This is also an example of how fast things can change yet stay the same. Forty years ago the town was 85%+ Polish. –

    Really? I know there were a lot of Poles, but I thought there were sizeable blocs of Italians and Bohemians, too. 85% sounds high.

    What I’ve found intriguing, over the years, is that there was always a virulent, and often violent, resistance to black people moving into Cicero and Berwyn, but not Hispanics.

    Could that have something to do with the shared Catholic heritage? I know the Catholic churches in those communities have aggressive Hispanic outreach programs.

  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    Zatoichi, now you’ve got me thinking about rolling down Cermak to Sawa’s Old Warsaw in Bridgeview.

    Haven’t been there all winter. After shoveling all this heavy Big Gripper snow, some latkes, stuffed cabbage, herring and soup of the day sound really good.

  18. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    ===85% sounds high.===

    Fast Eddie used to complain that the Daleys thought any white ethnics who weren’t Irish were all (pejorative term for Polish-Americans). Eddie was proud of his Croatian heritage, but as far as the Daleys were concerned, he was just another Pole.

    So, as an Irishman, 85+% Polish sounds about right to me (I’m kidding).

  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    - 47th Ward -,

    ===So, as an Irishman===

    With very much respect …

    Are/were you with Kelly and the Ole ‘Fightin’ 47th Ward,’ when they “ran it” up there?

    I ask, with respect and sincere aprreciation, especially when asking on a Post like this and the subject of “Organizations” on the table.

    For anonomitiy, if you don’t want to answer, I respect that too.


  20. - William - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    While Illinois politics is generally the laughing stock of the nation, this is a perfect example of one thing, it’s the voter’s fault. They have no one else to blame but themselves, yet bemoan corruption when it occurs.

  21. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    –The voters voted themselves rich at others expense and they know they want to keep living at others expense, regardless of who gets hurt, how corrupt their candidates are, or anything else. Good government be damned, times are tough and they don’t care who gets hurt.–

    I guess that’s one way of looking at it, although, in the experience I was describing, no one, certainly “voted themselves rich.”

    They were folks who lived and worked in their communities all their lives and didn’t make much doing indispensable jobs.

    When the time came — they retire, kids leave, husband dies (they were virtually all women), sell the house and downsize — they had a modern and dignified option for their remaining years.

    Keep in mind, they paid market rates and burned through their life’s assets (mostly the house sale) before township services (and Medicare) kicked in.

    But the services were great. And why shouldn’t they be?

    I pay taxes for a lot of stuff I don’t much care for, but I have no problem paying for old ladies with artificial hips to spend their remaining days in dignity in a safe, modern, one-bedroom apartment with some friendly underpaid nurses and cleaning ladies poking their heads in on a regular basis.

    No “voters” were getting rich off anybody. But voters will put up with others getting rich if they deliver the services.

  22. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    OW, the glory days of the Kelly era were a bit before my time. Ed’s still with us, God bless him, but the organization ain’t what it used to be. Of course, patronage ain’t what it used to be either, and neither is the neighborhood. It’s gone upscale. There’s a Starbuck’s on every corner now.

    No way would Ed Kelly spend $3 on a fancy cup of coffee (unless it came with a generous pour of whiskey).

  23. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    - 47th Ward -,

    First, much respect for the kind answer. Thank you.

    The “glory days” were a little before my time too, but the old organizations of the City, from Eddie V’s 10th Ward to the south, to the ‘Fightin’ 47th’ Ward to the North, and all the Wards on South/southwest side, (19th, 23rd, and the 11th, 13th, and 14th!) inbetween, the old timers and the stories are now just a blip.

    Do not even get started on the “old 1st Ward” (42nd) or Kass’ favorite the 36th…

    Just stories now …just tales.

    Glad to hear Ed’s still with us. Appreciate the response, I always enjoy and learn when you are posting.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===this is a perfect example of one thing, it’s the voter’s fault. They have no one else to blame but themselves, yet bemoan corruption when it occurs.===

    You may need to go to Cicero. They ain’t calling the “G”, usually its the “G” coming in and everyone duckign for cover.

    The ones bemoaning “corruption” are the ones not in power, not the residents who get their services, and get their connection to GET something.

    You lose your constituency you are claiming to help at the ballot box, you aren’t doing too good explaining why a change needs to be made … or … the people in power are doing a good job, in the eyes of the voters, to get them what they want or need.

  25. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    Try the Riverside Restaurant at 34th and Harlem. Get the duck, dumplings, sauerkraut, pirogi,….I’m hungry.

  26. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:09 pm:

    That well known advocate of reforming government, Dan Proft, is the one who masterminded Dominick’s first victory. Consequently, Dan speaks with authority about the need to reform state government.

  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:18 pm:

    Bill, been there many times.

    Red Kerr used to hang there.

    He was a very big man. He would push together two bar stools and kind of split the difference on them, if you know what I mean.

  28. - ChicagoDem - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:23 pm:

    FYI…for all those who say Latinos (Mexicans) stayed home, thus the reason Dominick won. WRONG. Most of the 87% cannot vote because they’re not citizens; most of them are here illegally! So, all Dominick had to is get a small % of Mexican-American citizens and a high % of the rest of the electorate and win. Remember, Dominick won with 6+k votes!

  29. - Martin - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:36 pm:

    Why didn’t anyone bring up the POOR education system in Cicero? We consistently rank in the gutter of the state, yet no one cares enough to even propose something to catapult change. FYI, I don’t have kids, but I feel like I live with the dumbest people on Earth who are easily swayed by a free turkey. On another note, when I do have kids, I’m getting the heck out of Cicero.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    ===I’m getting the heck out of Cicero.===

    Why wait? lol

  31. - Martin - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:54 pm:

    I keep asking myself the same thing. I guess I’ve stayed because I am a naive idealist. I hope that change will take place soon, but am coming to terms with the fact that it won’t happen.

    On another note, so I was poll watching at one of the precincts yesterday. There was a judge’s table, and the poll watching tables. One gentleman working as a judge did so the first half of the day, then I noticed he was gone and kept coming in and out of the office. He was very chummy with team Dominick, and I realized he was out campaigning for them. I highly doubt it’s ethical, but is it even legal? I asked around, but no one had an answer. Anyone know anything about this?

  32. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:56 pm:

    –FYI…for all those who say Latinos (Mexicans) stayed home, thus the reason Dominick won. WRONG. Most of the 87% cannot vote because they’re not citizens; most of them are here illegally!–

    Here we go….

    That small turnout in Kankakee and Will Counties, plus the suburban townships and city wards got me to thinking. I bet you those folks are here illegally, too.

    I knew it

    I thought the illegals voting were the reason Obama won?

    Pick a lane.

  33. - Jameson - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:18 pm:

    Dominick’s victory might be a small reminded of the old glory days of political organizations, but Tony Beale’s defeat in the 2nd CD is a reality check. He lost his own ward!

    Most ward and township organizations are dead, dead, dead. Even Madigan’s 13th, Zalewski/Lipinski’s 23rd, and Daley’s 11th are a shadow of their former selves. Those committeemen still control a dedicated vote, but the numbers have shrunk dramatically because of an influx of Latinos in each ward. The Latino’s simply do not turn out — as we saw in Cicero.

    Turn out is high in the South Side black wards — but none of the committeemen can deliver them, as Beale proved. Only the 19th Ward and Thornton Township can turn our big numbers these days. Not coincidently, both areas have a relatively small hispanic population.

  34. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:25 pm:

    ==So, as an Irishman==

    And here I was,thinking you were my alderman.

  35. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 6:21 pm:

    Some folks in Cicero may be here “illegally”, but a great many are 2nd gen–the children and grandkids of the Reagan amnesty, for instance.

    Word, I live in north Berwyn (13th street) and there are now black folks living in Berwyn. SO, the ethnic turnover seems to have resulted in less nastiness in that regard.

  36. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 6:44 pm:

    SOME things never change. Cicero. What a Town! And to think my folks both went to High School there! Must have some redeeming qualities–shucks, I wouldn’t even be here if they hadn’t hung around in that “neck of the woods” for at least a part of their lives!!!

  37. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 7:30 pm:

    Thanks Cheryl, I’ll take that as a compliment.

  38. - park - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 7:32 pm:

    This place is one….spooky….town

  39. - ChicagoDem - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 7:48 pm:

    Cermack…”folks maybe here illegally, but many are 2nd generation.”
    It’s the other way around. MANY folks who live in Cicero are Illegal…while a smaller group are legal.

  40. - Shemp - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 8:44 pm:

    I can’t believe some are praising the machine in Cicero as good government. Good local government is about the most efficient, equitable and effective delivery of services. It’s not who plays the best politics or runs the best patronage program. I am rather disgusted that there’s anything remotely close to celebrating such antiquated governance. No wonder this state is in the situation it is in. It is indefensible.

  41. - Chicago resident - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 2:14 am:

    Reading your comments Rich, it seems like you drank some Kool-Aid. Dominick’s form of government may be stuck in 1955, but without resources no opposition will stand a chance. The only way to change what is going on in Cicero is 1. the Federal government investigating, 2. the regional and national press researching, investigating, and publishing the strange governing practices in Cicero, 3. a prolonged organizing effort around local Cicero issues related to small government best practices, making such governments accountable (which may require lawsuits), and voter registration drives. Things don’t change overnight, and Cicero is the way it is because someone benefits.

  42. - Ray Hanania - Saturday, Mar 2, 13 @ 6:30 pm:

    Cicero is slightly larger than a Chicago ward … if you compare the Latino turnout in Cicero to the Latino turnout in some of Chicago’s strongest Hispanic wards, you realize that we had a strong Latino turnout. AND, in a three way race with two “White” candidates, Larry lost White voters to Pontarelli and won on the basis of the strong Hispanic voter turnout that endorsed his programs. I did an analysis of the election (noting my role as Larry’s spokesman upfront, of course) if anyone is interested at I have to say Rich Miller’s blog is one of the best read and the comments dialogue is at a far higher level than at many other blog sites. Cicero is worth looking at from the standpoint of how and why Dominick won and Ochoa lost, and especially the utter ineffectiveness of the mainstream Chicago newsmedia. Turns out the Chicago Sun-Times is fas less influential than many think and Carol Marin is no Mike Royoko. Ray Hanania

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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