If voters in Cicero have a hard time distinguishing between Larry Dominick, the candidate, and Larry Dominick, the incumbent town president, it’s probably because Dominick himself doesn’t seem to know the difference.
Town spokesman Ray Hanania confirmed last week that uniformed community service officers driving official town vehicles have gone door to door, questioning residents about whether they had applied for mail-in ballots for Tuesday’s municipal primary election.
Dominick’s opponent, former McPier executive Juan Ochoa, has encouraged voters to use the ballots, widely available since 2010. Ochoa’s campaign says the Cicero officers were dispatched to suppress those (mostly Latino) votes.
In a letter to the town attorney, Cook County Clerk David Orr said the visits “could easilybe construed as an attempt at voter intimidation.” […]
In a separate letter to Dominick on Tuesday, the clerk noted complaints about electioneering at early voting sites, including the Cicero Community Center, where a large banner reads “Cicero Town President Larry Dominick Welcomes You.” Two other signs flank the stage.
“Since you are on the ballot, it is inappropriate for these signs to be on display with voting nearby,” Orr said in a letter to Dominick on Tuesday. “Please take down the signs immediately.”
Tuesday morning, a lot of Cicero will be getting a lot of extra attention.
Not just by voters electing their town president, but by investigators with several departments, including the Cook County sheriff, and the county clerk.
In Cicero, current President Larry Dominick is in a bitter fight against contender Juan Ochoa. […]
To ensure no fraud occurs, the state’s attorney will provide manpower, as will the sheriff’s office. The county clerk will pony up 11 election attorneys, when two would be typical.
“I just want it to be prepared,” Clerk David Orr says. “I just hope things are smooth and people behave themselves.”
* Which leads us to this press release from Sen. Marty Sandoval…
Sandoval Calls for Orr’s Recusal from Cicero Elections
Cicero, Illinois – State Senator Martin Sandoval, joined by 16th District Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, today called on Cook County Clerk David Orr to immediately recuse himself from the Cicero elections charging that Orr has openly taken a partisan political position in an election in which he is supposed to be objective and non-partisan.
Sandoval said he sent a letter urging Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the chief law enforcement officer on election day, to order David Orr to immediately recuse himself for conflict of interest due to his political bias in the Cicero elections due.
Sandoval charged that Orr has played a political and partisan role in the municipal elections in the Town of Cicero, aiding and supporting his political allies, candidate Juan Ochoa and his endorsed cohorts including Chicago Alderman Ricardo Munoz, Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia and U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez. Sandoval charged that Orr has donated thousands of dollars to candidates actively involved in the Ochoa campaign, which creates a direct conflict of interest. Additional instances of bias include David Orr’s physical appearance at rallies with Ochoa and his supporters (which included convicted felon and former Cicero President Betty Loren-Maltese).
Sandoval, who is Vice Chairman of the Illinois Senate Committee on Local Government, said he will call for public hearings to examine Orr’s conduct in this election and in past elections, and will be filling legislation to eliminate the elected office of Cook County Clerk, making it a separate, non-partisan agency similar to the Chicago Board of Elections.
“David Orr’s conduct and conflict of interest has tainted this election in Cicero. David Orr is politically partisan and has and continues to use public resources to support his political allies to work against those he opposes,” Sandoval said. […]
Sandoval said that Orr has in the past donated directly to many of the people supporting Ochoa in his battle against incumbent Town President Larry Dominick. Orr’s office employed Alderman Munoz’s spouse in the past, and his decade’s long relationship with Ochoa supporters, County Commissioner Garcia and US Rep. Gutierrez has been well known and dates back to the Harold Washington era.
“There is no doubt that David Orr has been a political clerk and not an objective, independent guardian of Cook County’s voting system. Instead of protecting the rights of voters, he has been using his influence to harass one campaign while ignoring allegations of obvious voter fraud by workers supported by his allies. That is an outrageous abuse of David Orr’s powers and clearly a violation of his responsibility to insure fair, balanced and non-partisan elections,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval, who is Vice Chairman of the Illinois Senate Committee on Local Government, said he will call for public hearings to examine Orr’s conduct in this election and in past elections.
“David Orr’s political activism in this election has compromised his judgment,” said Sandoval. “The voters of Cook County deserve better.”
Oh, c’mon, man.
* Anybody hearing anything about what’s going on in that town today?
* Street gangs, racial discord, gropes and gas — all standard Cicero campaign fare
Illinois should stop automatically treating 17-year-olds charged with felonies as adults, a state juvenile justice advisory group recommended Tuesday.
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, a 24-member advisory group chaired by retired chief judge George Timberlake of Mount Vernon, issued its report after examining the impact of a 2010 change in state law.
Before 2010, anyone older than 16 charged with any type of crime was treated as an adult and went through the adult court system.
In 2010, the General Assembly reached a compromise — 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would be handled in the juvenile justice courts, and 17-year-olds charged with felonies would be prosecuted as adults.
Most states set 18 as the default age when criminal defendants will be treated as an adult. Illinois is one of 12 states with a lower age, the commission reported.
The report is here. Go take a look at it and tell us what you think.
The debtor would have as few as 24 hours to pay up or the city would be allowed to sell or auction the vehicle, using the proceeds to pay off the debt.
The measure, which is being proposed as the city ramps up enforcement of its newly expanded red-light camera network, would apply to all debts and judgments, from overdue water bills to unpaid permit fees, housing court fines and other IOUs.
A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city is reviewing the legislation and has taken no position on it. Mr. Silverstein says he has not spoken with the city and introduced the bill at the request of a lobbyist friend whose clients include a law firm with a large collections practice.
“This came to me from Adam Braun, a lobbyist representing some of the collection firms. Collection firms are trying to find a better avenue to collect money to help municipalities.”
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* Meanwhile, according to Stateline, we’re number two in red light cams…
There are 543 communities in the United States that use red-light cameras. More than half of them are located in just four states. This list shows states with the highest number of communities using red-light cameras.
* The House Executive Committee is scheduled to begin at three o’clock, so you can watch the gay marriage debate online here. You should also, of course, keep a close eye on our live session coverage post for updates from the hearing.
An Illinois House committee could vote Tuesday on a measure allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris says he expects the House Executive Committee to approve his legislation and send it to the full body.
* I agree with Gov. Quinn. This thing isn’t soup yet in the House…
Gov. Pat Quinn, during a stop in Normal on Thursday, acknowledged that the measure lacks the necessary 60 votes for passage. But he told reporters he plans to contact members of the House individually seeking their support, similar to what he did when he lobbied members to approve the civil unions law in 2010.
“There’s still persuasion to do in the House,” Quinn said.
One reason is that the House’s freshmen class tends to lean conservative in both parties…
Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said she thinks legalizing same-sex marriage is premature.
“We’ve had civil unions, and it hasn’t even been two years,” Scherer said. “The purpose of the civil union was to give people in this situation the rights they felt they deserved. I think that needs to have time to go through the system before we go further.”
As the battle over redefining marriage moves to the Illinois House this week, pro-family groups are taking aim at Republican State Rep. Ron Sandack.
Calls recorded by conservative activist Sandy Rios, and paid for by Illinois-based Family PAC (listen below), are being made to Sandack’s constituents. Pro-family organizations are concerned that Sandack is preparing to break his campaign promise to oppose same sex marriage in Illinois. According to sources, Sandack has told colleagues he now intends to vote for bill, which has already been approved by the Illinois Senate.
*** UPDATE *** From the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners…
Election judges in a representative sampling of Chicago precincts in the 2nd Congressional District reported that 11% registered voters had turned out as of 1:45 p.m. These numbers included election day voting, early voting and absentee ballots returned in those precincts.
This puts us on course for turnout in the mid-teens. This is to be expected with a special primary and special election. It is shaping up to be among the lowest turnouts in recent decades.
Some slightly good news on the weather front is that we’re also receiving reports that the snow is turning to rain on the South Side.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* There are those who actually expect us to believe that the 2nd Congressional District special Democratic primary represents some sort of national referendum on the NRA. For instance, the Reuters lede…
Today offers the first ballot box test of how significantly the politics of gun violence have changed since Sandy Hook.
Mayor Bloomberg is poised for a major anti-guns victory Tuesday with national resonance, after spending millions of dollars to influence a special election here to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
And here’s a statement from Becky Bond, President of CREDO Super PAC, which has spent about $20K $100K on the race…
“This is a national referendum on the political power of the NRA,” said Becky Bond, President of CREDO Super PAC. “CREDO is knocking on doors and talking to local voters to let them know that Debbie Halvorson will do the bidding of the NRA – not represent the needs of Chicago-area voters. If Halvorson loses the race – it will send a clear message to every candidate who takes the NRA’s blood money – you will be held accountable come Election Day.”
That area has been mostly anti-gun forever. The only national implication of this contest is that it’s now clear that Mayor Bloomberg intends to spend a bunch of money attacking the NRA.
Debbie Halvorson’s campaign has been a joke. She’s raised almost no money, she stumbles whenever she talks, she hasn’t put together squat for a campaign apparatus. Nobody of any consequence has come to her aid or spent cash on her behalf or put bodies in the streets.
So, beating Halvorson is supposed to signal something? Get real.
Yes, Bloomberg spent a lot of money, much of it on Robin Kelly. But winning this district isn’t exactly something to write home about. Pretty much anyone with a decent message and $2 million could do it.
* Jessica Taylor, senior analyst and reporter for the Rothenberg Political Report used a lot of jargon, but had it mostly right on CNN…
“While it’s very easy for a special election to become an incubator for the national issue of the day, it is less clear the issue will resonate on a national scale in 2014,” adds Taylor.
…Adding… From CREDO…
(T)his is the first-ever election where outside groups are jumping in to defeat candidates based on their opposition to gun control legislation so I’m surprised that you don’t think this race has national implications. Especially considering gun control and the NRA have emerged as a key issue in the race at the same time that Congress is debating gun control legislation. It’s also the first election I’m aware of where candidates are being held accountable for cozying up to the NRA.
* The only real news will be if Halvorson somehow wins. It might happen, although I doubt it. Tons of crossover votes by white Republicans and a dismal Democratic turnout made worse by today’s lousy weather…
* Snow could affect voter turnout in 2nd Congressional District primary
Tom Bowen, a former top political adviser to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, projected that Halvorson would need to win at least 60 percent of the vote in Will and Kankakee counties to make up for the huge deficits she is expected to face in Chicago and its suburbs, the district’s more heavily black areas.
“For Halvorson to have a fighting chance, she needs to be blowing it out of the water in these two counties,” Bowen said. “They’re not only areas she used to represent, but they have pockets of white voters who might not be as focused on guns as the city and south suburbs.”
She probably needs to win more than 60 percent.
* Here’s a local update e-mailed from a Robin Kelly worker…
Raining hail. But Robin’s HQ has been hoping. They asked a group of 40 who wanted to provide rides to the polls instead of knocking on doors in the rain and no one wanted out. We have too many vols for the amount of turf we have (almost 20,000 pluses).
Multiple reports of people declaring that they are Republicans but then refusing a Republican ballot to vote in the Dem primary
* If you’re in the district, make sure to let us know what’s going on in comments. NBC5 has a live blog…
In a pivotal showdown on guns, the Illinois House plans Tuesday to begin a marathon series of politically divisive votes to lay down limits on where exactly gun owners can legally carry their weapons in public.
The unusual maneuver orchestrated by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), a traditional proponent of gun-control measures, will focus on 27 different tweaks to pending concealed carry legislation bearing his name.
Nearly a dozen different legislators filed amendments Monday to Madigan’s bill, laying out specifically where gun owners could take their weapons once the state answers a December federal court order to end Illinois’ outright ban on carrying concealed weapons.
Some of the places the amendments would bar gun owners from taking their weapons include government buildings, child-care facilities, casinos, hospitals, stadiums and arenas, protest, museums, universities, public transit, amusement parks and churches. […]
“It gives every member of the House a chance to participate,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said of the unusual approach in debating such a huge array of amendments one by one.
“I think the biggest sticking point is going to be “shall issue” against “may issue” more than anything,” explains Representative Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg.
Phelps is sponsoring the current right to carry legislation, co-written by the National and Illinois Rifle Associations. It says that a license to carry “shall” be issued.
Phelps explains, “If you meet the qualifications and you pass the background check, I think you ought to be able to be awarded a concealed carry permit.”
But “shall” doesn’t cut it for many northern lawmakers. They want language that says a license to carry “may” be issued, depending on the judgement of local authorities. They argue that language works well in a handful of states, including New York.
“Many local law enforcement officials in smaller and rural communities know their citizens personally. These local officers are well aware of who stumbles out of the bar,” explains Mary Kay Mace, who lost her daughter in the shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said that Tuesday marks the “first of probably several sessions” on the topic. The goal is to give lawmakers the chance to “speak to and vote on” numerous gun issues, Brown said.
The motivations of the state’s longest-serving speaker, however, are not always clear in a Capitol where he has largely controlled the agenda year after year. Hot-button legislation often is worked on behind closed doors among competing interest groups and heard at the committee level; then a single bill that lawmakers can take or leave is voted on. Madigan also sometimes will survey his Democratic members privately to see what they could support on issues such as tax increases. […]
Rep. Brandon Phelps, who has pushed for allowing concealed carry in Illinois, has added his own question to the Tuesday mix, an amendment that would legalize the practice but require training and prohibit guns from being taken into schools, stadiums and bars.
Phelps suggested the speaker’s Tuesday debate is an attempt to find out where every lawmaker stands on the various issues that have come up in hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.
“A lot of people across this state and nation will be watching,” said Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg in far southern Illinois, of Tuesday’s action.
Doing it this way will leave individual lawmakers less political cover to run away from a bill by simply arguing they didn’t have a chance to add an element, such as certain restrictions for a firearms bill. The approach also puts many freshman lawmakers as well as some squeamish veterans on the spot, requiring them to take clear positions on politically difficult issues.
The speaker’s approach allows political protection, said Kent Redfield, a former House staff member and retired political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
A comprehensive “clean bill,” such as one Phelps has introduced, would require a single yes or no, without nuances that can be explained away at election time. Redfield said the Madigan process allows Democrats, who understand the state must adopt gun legislation, to nonetheless vote against provisions they find particularly distasteful and politically risky.
“An up-or-down vote on a clean bill, you either voted for or against,” he said. “If you allow a bunch of votes, then people can be on specific roll calls for specific provisions and he can give them some cover” from outraged voters.
I’ll post a live blog later this morning. Make sure to watch it.