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Triumphant week quickly turns sour on Congressman Garcia

Monday, Jan 7, 2019

* Last week was supposed to be a triumphant time for Congressman Chuy Garcia. He was about to be sworn in to Congress, his nemesis Ald. Ed Burke had been indicted and Garcia gave his full backing to one of Burke’s opponents

On Wednesday, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia endorsed 28-year-old Tanya Patiño to unseat Burke, Chicago’s most powerful and longest-serving alderman. Patino is the girlfriend of Aaron Ortiz, the Garcia-backed political newcomer who defeated Burke’s brother, State Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), in a primary race dominated by Edward Burke’s property tax reduction work for the riverfront hotel and condominium tower bearing the name of President Donald Trump.

Burke has run unopposed in 10 of the last 11 elections. He now has four challengers and has been targeted since his brother’s primary defeat.

On Wednesday, Garcia was asked whether he expects Burke to drop out of the race if he faced federal charges.

“It’s hard to say. Someone who has been a member of the Council for 50 years may not have considered how to live life differently,” Garcia said.

“He is having deep letting-go issues as it relates to the City Council. It’s what he knows. It’s what’s made him breathe for a long, long time.”

* But then this happened to one of Garcia’s closest allies

Ald. Ricardo Munoz was arrested without incident at his 22nd Ward office Wednesday morning after physically assaulting his wife on New Year’s Eve, Chicago police said.

Munoz’s wife, Betty Torres-Munoz, filed Wednesday for an order of protection in Cook County Domestic Violence Court. She asked a judge to order Munoz to stay away from their residence and mixed breed dog, Rambo, and to pay her $1,000 a month in temporary support beginning next month.

In those court papers, she alleged that during a heated argument Monday night her husband “forcibly” grabbed and pushed her, causing her to fall and hit her back and head as well as twist her left arm.

“Ricardo had been drinking all day + was drunk,” she wrote.

* And then

In a petition seeking an order of protection, the wife of Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) claims she feared not only physical abuse at the hands of her husband but threats from gang members connected to him.

“Ricardo has connections (with) local gangs (and) individuals with criminal pasts who … have threatened my family in the past,” Betty Torres-Munoz wrote on the form she filled out Wednesday, seeking a court order barring the Munoz from having contact with her, the couple’s 16-year-old dog, or visiting the Little Village home they shared.

That order was granted by a Cook County judge on Thursday, a day after Munoz was arrested at his ward office on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge stemming from an alleged New Year’s Eve altercation.

Munoz, who announced this summer that he would not seek another term, pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. As he left the courthouse Thursday, Munoz told reporters he would “talk tomorrow,” but did not return calls from the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.

* And then

Bill Velazquez, the chief of staff to freshman Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, D-Ill., resigned on Friday in the wake of a New York Times story detailing the account of a female staffer who worked with Velazquez on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and said he “laughed” after she brought a complaint to him about being sexually harassed.

Velazquez was a manager on the Latino outreach team of the Sanders campaign.

Garcia’s communications director Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli said Friday in a statement that Garcia had accepted Velazquez’s resignation.

“They both agreed that the recent media stories that involved Bill had become a distraction from the work the Congressman needs to do for the people of Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, and from the work Bill was brought in to do,” Rodriguez-Ciampoli said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Colin O'Scopey - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    Bill Velazquez is a good man. I remember he once worked for the CHA (or HUD?) back in the late 90s. I am surprised that he would be this insensitive toward the #MeToo movement.

    He didn’t come across like that to me when I met him on the rail lo those many years ago.

  2. - Shytown - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    It is head scratching that he would hire someone who had publicly reported MeToo incidents. If it weren’t for all the other high-profile scandals eating up all the media oxygen right now this would’ve taken their place.

  3. - Blue Dogs are Blind, Deaf, and Dumb - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    I would say last week was mixed for Congressman Garcia. It was triumphant that he was sworn in as the 4th District Congressman and that he has endorsed a candidate to take on indicted Ald. Burke. Ald. Munoz has admitted in the past to having a problem with alcohol and it apparently led to his arrest on domestic battery. I think the solution with the Congressman’s Chief of Staff stepping down was correct in light of the manner he was portrayed as having handled a sexual harassment claim. I wish the Congressman well in his first term and may the others make the best efforts to address the matters that have occurred to them individually.

  4. - Anon - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    This is such a bizarre framing. A woman has allegedly been abused, and the story is “here’s why that’s bad for the powerful male friend of the powerful male alleged abuser.”

  5. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:58 pm:

    Big time
    I’m on my way-I’m making it
    Big time
    I’ve got to make it show yeah

  6. - amalia - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    machismo run amok. it’s an all over the world/every group problem.

  7. - Southwest Sider - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 3:14 pm:

    Nope, good week for Chuy Garcia. He doesn’t own the other problems.

  8. - low level - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 3:46 pm:

    =is the girlfriend of Ortiz==
    Oh. So this reformer engaged in nepotism? Goes to the point we were discussing before Xmas. “Reformers” often engage in the same tactics and take the same actions they criticize others for.

  9. - Chicagoan - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    Chuy García had a good week.

    Bill Velazquez is a nice person who obviously thought he could joke around with someone who brought up a serious matter to him (which as a supervisor, he shouldn’t have done). He did report the staffer’s issue to higher ups, too. The flippant manner he handled it doesn’t reflect on Chuy García, though. Regardless of being a nice person or not, keeping Bill V. would have sent the wrong message, so it was for the best that he was let go.

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 5:23 pm:

    Love that Chuy is now in Congress, keep him very far away from Chicago.

  11. - Tiredofit - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 8:24 pm:

    All corrupt Chicago Machine commies
    The next Detroit

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