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Two versions of reality

Thursday, Jun 28, 2007

* Was it the “bounty” or something else that did in Gary Skoien yesterday? What follows are two different versions of the same Metra board meeting. It’s a good lesson in how the “media filter” operates.

* First, the Tribune story, entitled “‘Bounty’ remark stalls politician’s bid for Metra board - Democrats dig in heels on nomination”…

After Gary Skoien, the former chairman of the Cook County Republican Party, offered a $10,000 “bounty” for the arrest and conviction of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley two years ago, he was fired from his real estate job. On Wednesday, the political gaffe may have cost him a bid to become a member of Metra’s board.

Suburban Cook County commissioners had no trouble reappointing two Metra board members, Arlene Mulder of Arlington Heights and James Dodge of Orland Park, but the commissioners split bitterly over Skoien’s nomination, leaving its fate uncertain. […]

Republican Commissioner Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park, whose district includes portions of Chicago’s Northwest Side, where Daley is popular, moved Wednesday to approve Mulder and Dodge, but deferred action onSkoien’s nomination until the commissioners meet again.

Silvestri acknowledged that the “bounty” comment still rankled some officials, but said it was up to Skoien whether to offer an apology.

* But is that what really happened, or did the Trib impose its own version of reality on the situation? There were other things going on at the Metra board that the Trib missed. The Daily Southtown’s report follows…

In a short but snippy meeting that included south suburban allies hurling accusations at each other, the Cook County Board’s suburban caucus chose to defer its choice on one of three seats on the Metra board.

Support was split between Metra director Elonzo Hill, of Country Club Hills, and former Cook County Republican chairman Gary Skoien, of Palatine. Neither had a majority of votes.

Commissioners Deb Sims (D-Chicago) and Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) accused chairwoman Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park) of trying to cut Democrats out of the process so she could retaliate against Hill. Gorman said Hill didn’t back her choice for leader of the Metra board last year.

“To not appoint someone because they didn’t do what the chair (Gorman) wanted sends a very poor message to any appointment we make,” Murphy said. “It may be an abuse of power.”

* The back story, from yesterday’s Southtown editorial page…

Gorman said she is taking the action because Hill did not support Orland Park Trustee James Dodge, a current board member, for the board presidency last year. Hill supported Carole Doris, of Downers Grove, who won the election. “He could not support someone in his own back yard,” Gorman said of Hill.

But there’s a flaw in Gorman’s argument. She is looking beyond her back yard for Hill’s replacement. If she wants Hill out because of the Dodge issue, we can understand the politics involved. But if Hill is replaced, he should be replaced by someone from the Southland. There are many capable individuals who could represent the area on the Metra board. Instead, a northwest suburbanite appears poised to get the seat in a move that is most political.

Gorman replaced Skoien as the Cook County Republican chairman earlier this year, after Skoien resigned. Before that, as the GOP continued to wither away in Cook County under Skoien’s tutelage, Skoien made headlines with a hokey political stunt: He offered a $10,000 bounty for information leading to a conviction of Mayor Richard Daley. There is little that leads us to believe he will make an effective Metra board member — let alone one who will put the interests of the Southland high on his agenda.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:24 am:

    Cook County Democratic Commissioners really complaining that Republicans are cutting them out of the process at the County? Oh, that’s rich.

  2. - steven - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:34 am:

    To the Trib, everything is about Daley.

    He is the great and powerful Oz.

  3. - hmmmm - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:43 am:

    Or Rezko.

    The Tribune also believes Rezko is the great and powerful Oz who is behind everything.

    Kass, John Chase, Ray Long - they all like to create their own mythical fantasy lands in politics.

  4. - Tom - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:53 am:

    Though Skoien was fired from his real estate job purely for political reasons he should have known better. There are many legitimate ways to criticize the vastly overrated Daley. Placing a bounty on Daley’s head was silly, silly, silly. Skoien’s ridiculous stunt as well as his poor stewardship of the Cook Co. Republican party did not bode well for a successful tenure on the Metra board.

  5. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 10:48 am:


    So a politico was denied a spot on the board. So what? Perhaps the Metra needs to appoint as many non-political people so it doesn’t fall into the same trap as the CTA and Metrolink in St. Louis. Wishful thinking, I know…

  6. - No way - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:23 pm:

    Skoien was worthless for the GOP in Cook, his bounty was reckless and goofy, and of course he should NOT get the Metra spot.

  7. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:26 pm:

    Skoien’s “poor stewardship of the Cook Co. Republican party”? Obviously a statement by someone who doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Under Skoien, the Cook Republicans conducted a host of new events including a Convention in Rosemont, actively investigated corruption, held press conferences to detail what was found, sued Aldermen to stop the use of public funds to support the Democratic Party in Chicago, made the effort to fill all slates with Republican candidates (for the first time in decades), and generally was about ten times more active than under his predecessors. Plus, Tony Peraica almost beat Todd Stroger to be a Republican Cook County Board President.

    At the time Skoien issued the Cook County Bounty in the summer of 2005, he was excoriated because no one thought (or wanted to think) that the corruption ran all the way up to the top. Mary Ann Childers couldn’t keep a straight face delivering the story on TV.

    Then the Sorich 4 were indicted seven months later in February 2006. Then they were convicted.

    No one is laughing any more.

  8. - GOP'er - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 1:45 pm:

    People are laughing - at Peraica and Skoien.

    A few empty events that no one cared about don’t make up for the GOP wipe-out in Cook last year. The proof’s in the pudding.

    Peraica storming the cook county building with drunken hooligans and Skoien putting a price on the mayor’s head. That’s all anyone remembers and it’s not good.

  9. - Reality - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:42 pm:

    Whether or not you supported him, please realize that Peraica had every right, as a candidate for Cook County Board President and candidate for re-election as a sitting County Commissioner, to view the process. Don’t forget, Stroger’s campaign manager was ALREADY UP THERE, ostensibly to make certain votes from the South Side were counted. That whole deal with the votes being physically driven in from the Northern Suburbs was a dubious fiasco. David Orr’s verbal response to this mess was ridiculous as well.

    Stroger won the election fair and square. Peraica attempting to attend the vote-counting of his own election(s) is hardly comparable to Skoien’s “bounty” stunt.

  10. - Tom - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:47 pm:

    Anon: Skoien was right about how high corruption reaches in Chicago, and I wanted someone to collect his bounty. However anyone with even remedial knowledge of PR should have known that stunt would backfire and make Daley a sympathetic figure. If Skoien wanted to get Daley he should have found a candidate to oppose him in ‘07, and hammered Daley on an anti-corruption, fiscal sanity platform.

    Peraica got so many votes not because of Skoien, but because of people’s strong aversion to Todd Stroger.

  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:51 pm:

    Peraica had every right to view the process. Nobody ever said he didn’t.

    But leading his crew of drunks on an angry torchlight parade which ended in his crew breaking open boxes was just plain goofy.

  12. - Been There - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 2:55 pm:

    Tribune got it right. The story also pointed out that Gorman wanted to dump Hill. But Gorman should have taken the time to realize that Skoien didn’t have the votes. She tried to ram this through without doing her homework.

  13. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:00 pm:


    Skoien’s Cook County office on LaSalle Street, and Executive Director Tom Swiss, put on a huge effort for Periaca in Chicago, particularly on the near north lakefront.

    Peraica pulled over 30% of the vote in the city, and actually won in 42, 43, 44 and 32, the wards worked by Skoien’s people. As a matter of fact, Peraica met his goal of getting 30% in the city, and lost because he failed to meet his goals in the suburbs.

    I guess you didn’t read much of the press on the matter, including the lengthy article in Time Magazine on Daley, Skoien and the bounty. It was far from “sympathetic” towards Daley.

  14. - Gene Parmesan - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:11 pm:

    Anon @ 1:26: “fill all slates with Republican candidates (for the first time in decades),”– You gotta be kidding me. Filled with who? None of the other candidates for Cook County offices, but Peraica, even had a friggin’ website! Just slapping some names on the ballot isn’t my idea of leading the Cook County Republican Party. Given their huge losses in November, and the in-fighting that is still occurring, Skoien’s tenure is best described as pathetic.

  15. - Tom - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:19 pm:

    The wards you mentioned comprised the core of Claypool’s support, and those voters were incensed at the Stroger switcheroo. Maybe Skoien helped tip the balance but I think they would have voted against Stroger anyway.

    I only vaguely remember that Time article. I do know the bounty backfired locally where it mattered most. I agreed with Skoien in principle, but in an area where the media often handle Daley with kid gloves attacks on him have to be more tactical.

  16. - Spingfeild Solly - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:21 pm:

    How’s the Kool Aid Guys :)

    All is well, the bottom ticket did so well in Cook County :)

  17. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:52 pm:

    Well, Gene, all I can say is you have to start somewhere, don’t you? Before Skoien, the Cook County GOP was virtually non-existent. If he didn’t fill the slots, I’m sure you would be criticizing him for that today.

    The fact remains that Skoien tried much, much harder, and did ten times more, than either his predecessor . . . or his successor.

    As for the infighting, there actually wasn’t much under Skoien, at least in Cook County. It has erupted since he left, as Gorman and Peraica go at it.

  18. - Reality - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:05 pm:

    Tom: As Ed McMahon would say, you are correct, sir. People in those wards voted against Stroger, not necessarily for Peraica. Michael Patrick Flanagan and Dan Rostenkowski know how that works. And Tom, what do you think voters will do when they see the upcoming Devine Switcheroo?

    Rich: My point was not the ill-advised march of Peracia’s supporters–although it is difficult to separate that from the situation–I think he himself was initially denied entry to the room, or the elevator or whatever.

  19. - Gene Parmesan - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:24 pm:

    Anon, I would absolutely criticize him for not filling the slots. And I will also criticize him for filling those slots with candidates that did nothing. Seems like a pretty important part of that role is getting “viable” candidates on the ballot. Certainly more important than that hokie convention.

    10 times more effort? Who cares that he “tried hard”? The Cook GOP got owned under his leadership. That’s all that matters. None of the candidates were elected or re-elected, and the Dems got a terrible candidate for County Board elected, along with every other position in Cook County government, save a few commisioners. How many seats were lost in the northwest suburbs?

    I think getting Republicans elected and passing policies the party stands for are far more significant than any of the “accomplishments” you listed above.

  20. - Reality - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 4:53 pm:

    Gene Parmesan is right. Anon: Before Skoien, the Cook County GOP “was virtually non-existent?” Come on. It still is. Also, aren’t you supposed to take a half-second to come up with a nickname? Everyone else has. The Cook County GOP is, at this writing, the worst it has ever been. It may, (emphasis on the may) get stronger. Peraica may have been a decent candidate, but his showing was largely a reaction to the Stroger fiasco. Let’s see how he does in ‘08 for State’s Attorney. Will Liz Gorman support him, a primary challenger or the Democratic candidate?

    The State GOP is not much better. Andy McKenna is as ineffectual than Skoien, maybe worse if you think about it. These people are making Manny Hoffman look like, well, Manny Hoffman.

    Does anyone here remember that, at the time of Skoien’s Barney Fife-esque challenge, the Cook County GOP DID NOT EVEN HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY THE BOUNTY IF THEY HAD TO?

  21. - GOB - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 5:23 pm:

    At least Manny Hoffman had one candidate that was an elected official in Cook County. We know him as Jack O’Malley.

    Tom Swiss was as ineffective as anyone I’ve ever seen in politics. Along with the arrogance came the ineptness of building and maintaining support, recruiting candidates and supporting campaigns.

    Instead, this guy ran around hitting campaigns up for ungodly amounts of money, hung up the phone on committeemen and didn’t do anything to help the county slate — except pay some lip service.

    You can’t sit and focus on the city, where on a good day, a GOP candidate gets 30%. When suburban candidates need help from the party and the only response Swiss gives is that he needs $10K from their campaign and the only time you see the guy is at a Wrigleyville watering hole, there is something wrong.

    It’s probably Skoien’s fault for installing Swiss, but even though he made huge PR blunders, Skoien reminded people there still was a Cook County GOP.

  22. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 5:58 pm:

    Wow, if you want to know what’s wrong with the Cook GOP, just read this post! Feel The Hate, huh, guys? LOL.

    Skoien and Swiss are living proof that no good deed goes unpunished in Republican circles in Illinois.

  23. - Reality - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:45 pm:

    GOB: Yes, Hoffman did have Jack O’Malley as a candidate; but not because of Hoffman. I don’t know if that was the point you were trying to make or not; but I had to set the record straight. Anon: You should have stopped at 9:24 a.m. and everyone would have agreed with you. LOL. BTW, Didn’t your buddy Skoien run against Phil Crane?

  24. - PALATINE - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 7:23 pm:


  25. - No way - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:57 pm:

    The Cook County GOP was never weaker than under Skoien. And he and Swiss left the organization deep in debt. The Cook GOP actually filed non-participation reports with the Board of Elections for Skoien’s last elections! Skoien’s a divisive guy and remember he had a history of annoying people in his own Paletine township before he ever came to the County.

  26. - Shambles - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 9:53 pm:

    Before Skoien, you wouldn’t be having this conversation about the Cook GOP. Swiss worked for almost 2 years FOR FREE you dim bulbs. He had no effective committeemen for support and no money, yet still managed to have an active website and regular emails, convention, lawsuits against Aldermen for running their campaigns in their Aldermanic offices, and recruited 50 candidates to run for office. He also got some hot women to rallies - that alone is worth kudos to me!

    Like Skoien or not, he put the Cook GOP on the map again. Haven’t heard boo from Gorman. No work, no criticism. Just lame excuses like no one wants to run.

    Electing Gorman was the best things the Democrats could have gotten.

  27. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 11:44 pm:

    I call BS. No friggin way Swiss worked for free. For 2 years, I don’t think so. Nobody in politics works for free. He must have been getting paid by Skoien or Gidwitz under the table or something like that.

    Always follow th money. How much and from whom? Anyone know?

  28. - Anon - Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 9:58 am:

    Tom Swiss did indeed work for free. He is a private investor, and good at it. He did not need the money, and he knew going in that Cook GOP was unable to pay him a reasonable salary. The did pay the office staff who had to have a salary.

  29. - Southland Resident - Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 2:56 pm:

    I do not believe it is a abuse of power on behalf of Commissioner Gorman. These are apointment positions and you serve at the pleasure of the elected officials. I however, agree that a replacement should be found in the Southland and not the West, North, or Northwest Suburbs.

    I believe there are plenty of great candidates for the position. Former State Representative candidate Marc Wiley comes to mind for starters.

    Lets let the next representative come from the South! I believe Marc is from Homewood. We need that representation on the board.

    Hopefully someone with some sense reads this.

  30. - Jim - Friday, Jun 29, 07 @ 3:31 pm:

    Your comments are pathetic! No one actually wants to do any work and get quality people elected. You are all to busy blaming people. Just when I thought the hole could not get any deeper- pathetic “Cook County Republicans” make it worse.

    Your in fighting will do nothing. All anyone cares about is protecting their little bit of turf or more meaningless title. A badge they can wear at poltical events to feel special.

    I say let it burn!!! When all the “movers” in the party, (if thats what you can call them) finally drop off, then the real people can begin doing work. I am 26 years old and have more foresight than most of my parties leaders. In ten years most of the morons will be gone.

    The party is ripe for a new generation. I just want to say thanks to all the folks in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, for ruining the conservative movement in IL! I will not bow to any of you or make any apologies for my statements. YOU DO NOT MATTER!

    You have become like the Scottish Lords in the movie Braveheart! Content to sell out your own people for political favors. You have no principle and no vision.

    The infighting between Peraica and Gorman is pathetic. I have called for the cease fire on numerous occasions. Which one will be the bigger person and step up, or will both end up losing their positions over such dribble?

    Lazy best describes most of you. You complain and complain and critize those who spend thousands of hours and thousands of their own money on reforming Cook County. If I had to guess very few of you have participated in phone banks, door-to-door, registration drives or any of the other work that it takes to win an election. I am sure you all feel your TO GOOD for that.

    The only way you win is by engaging the voter. Go out and talk to your neighbor, email your friends, promote sound candidates and policies.

    Tom Swiss did the best job with what he had. How many of you would of worked for free (nay-put up 10K of your own money) to try and help the party.

    For those that critize Gorman—hold your horses. Lets give her a chance. It can’t get any worse?

    Recruiting quality candidates is everyones job. Put your money and name where your mouth is. It takes guts to run for office.

    In my opinion you have 3 choices. Do something, shut up or MOVE! I am doing something. Anyone that know me realizes the amount of time, money, and energy I devote to reforming Cook County and IL. There is hardly any decent leaders under 40 to look to! I blame the party for not supporting young conservatives. THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE. To bad the COOK GOP aborted a long time ago!

  31. - SOUTH REPUBLICAN - Saturday, Jun 30, 07 @ 7:07 am:

    I have to agree with Jim. I thought with the last election when republicans were stomped at the polls, we would have learned our lesson! The party states they want to bring back young energetic candidates. The party wants to bring in Minorities! Well you had several in the past election. But many were to busy trying to line their pockets and save their own positions. Now we hold no state offices. I read a comment about Marc Wiley former candidate for Illinois State Rep. 80th District. African American and from the South Suburbs! Ok, Liz gets rid of hill who resides in the South Suburbs! I have met with Mr. Wiley multiple times and he has a great future with the party. The Party wants grassroots, but don’t want to plant the seeds. Talk is Cheap! I have emailed Mr. Wiley and told him I plan to start a campaign for him to put his name for the RTA Board. Who is willing to join me!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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