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Question of the day

Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

* WBEZ

Jose Alvarez, the tollway’s executive director, withdrew from his [Tuesday] speaking role at a planned City Club luncheon late Monday. That’s after WBEZ first reported on the City Club raid, and that federal investigators subpoenaed the organization for records about Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago.

“Executive Director Alvarez cancelled his appearance at the City Club while there are questions about the federal investigation involving the organization,” tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said in a statement released Tuesday. […]

In response to Alvarez’s sudden cancellation, the City Club issued a short statement Tuesday that said it “looks forward to welcoming Executive Director Jose Alvarez in the near future” and that it regretted any inconvenience associated with the cancelled program.

I give an annual speech for the City Club called “Christmas with Rich Miller.” It’s a fun event and we raise money for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. People also bring toys for kids under LSSI’s care. Tickets always sell out very fast. Last year, the City Club was kind enough to donate a table and we raised even more money for LSSI by auctioning off the seats.

The City Club and I usually set a date in the summer and then they sell tickets well in advance. I never heard from them this summer and made some travel plans for December. They reached out to me several days ago and I put them off while I tried to figure out logistics and whether to even do it. And then WBEZ reported that Jay Doherty’s office at the City Club had been raided and the City Club itself had been subpoenaed.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul didn’t cancel his City Club address yesterday, but he also didn’t take any customary questions from the media, saying he had an early afternoon meeting with other attorneys general.

My speech has become something of a tradition, and even though it’ll be a little bit of a hassle I could still make it to the venue. Or I could just hold an online fundraiser here for LSSI.

So, I’m gonna put it to a non-binding, advisory referendum. I reserve the right to make the final decision.

* The Question: Do the City Club speech or hold an online fundraiser? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


survey tool

- Posted by Rich Miller        

53 Comments
  1. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    Speech, unless something changes between now and then that would make it inadvisable to do so.

    Dance with who brung you.


  2. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    I voted speech because I like the fact it is a tradition. And City Club’s goals are good even if some people may not be
    However if you could figure out what might raise the greatest money for charity maybe go that way. Let the money talk is sorta an Illinois tradition too.


  3. - Red Raider - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Why not do both? Give the folks who can’t/don’t want to go to the City Club a chance to support your cause.

    But I voted for doing the speech. A subpoena is not a guilty verdict. The best action is the one that procures the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers, and I suspect your speech will raise more money and help more people than the online fundraiser.


  4. - Wylie Coyote - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Just give your loyal subscribers a 30-minute heads-up so we can exercise our City Club membership and get a seat at the table. City Club should also limit ticket sales to one per member so they don’t have just a few people buying tables of 10 and leaving many of its members in the lurch.


  5. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Absolutely do the speech. CityClub is not tainted even if Jay is under a bit of a cloud. You do a lot of good for LHHS through your efforts and its a great community event.


  6. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Do the speech. I’ve seen you criticize your own blog’s advertisers on the same day they buy an ad, and have no concerns that you’d treat Doherty, the City Club, or donors to the December event any differently.


  7. - West Wing - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    I think we’re going to need some humor around mid December after all of these investigations … I voted for a speech


  8. - Fixer - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    I voted speech because while there may be one or even a handful of bad apples with the City Club (remains to be seen), the goal of what you’re doing with that event is to help kids that are in need. I think that venue will offer a better opportunity to do so than we can online.

    That being said, why not both?


  9. - GADawg - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    Make the speech. Talk about the danger of finding people guilty before all the evidence is in vs. the high cost of corruption in Illinois. If more is revealed before the speech date, that might affect which subject gets more time.


  10. - Red Ketcher - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    Appears,they dissed you by not setting date as usual.
    Then, while under fire , they say come on up. Why now?
    Skeptical, so voted online


  11. - northsider (the original) - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    Speech. it’s a Christmas tradition.
    Plus the City Club has been around a long time & will be around long after the current crisis du jour.


  12. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    Do the speech, find a bigger venue.

    The Tollway is under scrutiny right now, their decision to bail is understandable. You are not under scrutiny nor is LSSI presumably, so there is nothing untoward. Also, we ought to take City Club’s board at their word that they are not a target. Can’t imagine what they could possibly be accused of…free breadsticks?


  13. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    I voted speech, but they sure would make it easier for you and other speakers like you if Mr. Doherty were asked to temporarily step aside while this plays out.


  14. - Monadnock Pigeon - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    Speech, please. You do a good job of it. Besides, video of you giving it is important to help people realize that this blog is not the work of a bot or a celebrity, but the personal project of a regular human being who cares deeply about Illinois, Illinois politics, and doing it right.


  15. - ChicagoBars - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    Speech. Then fundraiser after party at some nearby bar too. I know some joints.


  16. - Drake Mallard - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    Do the speech. Midway through reach under the podium and pretend to pull out an electronic bug that you brought yourself. Note who turns Ash colored


  17. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    Rich Miller…

    === Pretty upset they knew about this raid and kept on keeping on without telling anyone.===

    Unless something changes to your thought here that you’ll share with all of us, I voted online funder.

    Sometimes it is about not being “last to know” when they coulda and shoulda told us all.

    Online funder.


  18. - James the Intolerant - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Online fundraiser. Maybe I am pre-judging, but someone using the club as a personal lobby forum is something to be avoided. I loved the speeches, but I vote against.


  19. - Steve - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    Do the speech. There’s many people who are City Club members and speakers. Just because the FBI has an investigation going on : doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go. There’s been no indictments . Charities, social clubs , and state government can’t be run by FBI raids. The show must go on.


  20. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    Anyone ever brought a toy to an Online Fundraiser?


  21. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    I voted for online fundraiser.

    Seems inadvisable to risk being seen as part of the organization’s rehabilitation before you know how it all shakes out.

    But I’m pretty risk-adverse about such things.

    – MrJM


  22. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    Speech, just make sure you bring your lawyer.


  23. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    Online. Until the dusts settles.


  24. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    How about a speech somewhere else for Lutheran Services?


  25. - Because I said so.... - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Speech. It’s tradition and a good excuse to have some holiday cheer afterwards.


  26. - MakePoliticsCoolAgain - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    Online fundraiser. See OW and @misterjayem as to why.


  27. - Regular democrat - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    Do the speech. People come to hear what you have to say. Raises a nice buck for a good cause.


  28. - Tommydanger - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    I voted speech; its one of the highlights of the year for me(I know, get a life).

    My only caveat is if your December travel plans are for family, then fund raise on line, family first, always.


  29. - Responsa - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    Good people often look for excuses or reasons to turn a blind eye to corruption and political shenanigans and I know you are struggling with this. CC of Chi put you in this awkward position. Between the current media stories and the old Chicago Magazine articles with exposes about City Club issues I think you’d be wise to step aside from the speech this one year at least. I do understand how important the fundraising for the Lutheran charities is both to them and to your heart. Your reputation and your ethics are also important and priceless. I think you know what you need to do here. God bless.


  30. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    Speech - Try not to let their actions compromise your morals and objectives. I would say at another venue would be better, but I do not think that is part of the question - could be the solution though.


  31. - JP Altgeld - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    Do the speech in a new venue and let all the proceeds go to LSSI.


  32. - Don Ames - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    There may be more to this than meets the eye as Com Ed lobbyist John Hooker pushed for Jose Alvarez to be Tollway ED. Hooker was on the CHA board. There may be nothing to this connection but interesting anyway.


  33. - Boomerang - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    Speech. Maybe we can get the Feds to serve some supoenas during dessert!


  34. - No Double Standard - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    When an elected falls into hot water, everyone jumps ship. But not the city club? I wonder why. Do what’s right, Rich. Not just what’s easy.


  35. - Question - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    Hooker and Sandoval - did they play a part in the Alvarez appointment? Double header here? I don’t think there was enough reported about the investigation to warrant the cancellation. Rich - go, don’t go; same thing applies to you. Feds seeking info is not a factor on your and the Clubs efforts to raise money for charity. That relates to lobby activities, not the Club itself.


  36. - lobby - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    There’s no way of knowing what the feds are actually looking for or whether Doherty or the Club is involved. The LSSI, the City Club, and those who attend the speech should not lose out when no one knows what’s really going on. Let the investigation play out and don’t change your tradition without actual facts.


  37. - Sayitaintso - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:14 pm:

    Agree with A Guy…..they’ve done you a solid; you will show gratitude for that, which is unrelated to any ‘issues’ they are undergoing presently. If you cop out, and its found they were not guilty…..; you’ll bring more money with the speech.


  38. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    Voted online. Too much unknown to commit to the City Club today. Have to think there’s another venue this year.


  39. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    -There’s no way of knowing what the feds are actually looking for or whether Doherty or the Club is involved.-

    Not with complete certainty, but they don’t usually make a habit of showing up unannounced and taking stuff from just witnesses or victims.


  40. - ETown60120 - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:38 pm:

    Make the speech.


  41. - Boone's is Back - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:41 pm:

    Gotta give the people what they want. Speech, Speech, Speech.


  42. - dbk - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:49 pm:

    If things go south with City Club over the next few weeks, then maybe another venue, as others have suggested.

    Love the speech, though, and would hate for it to fall victim to … whatever.


  43. - Swamp - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 4:03 pm:

    Rich, decline to go to the event. Although it seems to be for a great cause, you cannot support any org that is under federal investigation for potentially playing a role in criminal activity. Be better than the corruption that plagues this state, make a statement that this type of behavior should not be tolerated.


  44. - Flat Bed Ford - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 5:29 pm:

    I voted online funder but perhaps you could do a PPV podcast or something? Best of both worlds? There is indeed comic gold coming out of Springfield right now.


  45. - Rich Hill - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 6:16 pm:

    Move the speech to the Auditorium Theatre, as tribute to the late Paul Green.


  46. - Froganon - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 8:03 pm:

    Do both. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.


  47. - ChiSox - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 8:44 pm:

    Don Ames is on to something. Hooker and Alvarez were at CHA together and then Alvarez brought with all his people to do what he wants at Tollway. There’s more to it


  48. - Ann - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 9:45 pm:

    Voted yes for the speech, but the comments persuaded me that I was wrong. On-line.


  49. - Motambe - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 9:50 pm:

    I voted speech. It’s a tradition, supports a good cause, and the City Club has been a good partner for the event. Avoid mentioning the investigation. Make it a fun, positive event - ditto West Wing, we may all need some humor by December.


  50. - Seats - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:27 pm:

    Picked speech only because I’d hate for there to be one less Rich Miller speech.

    I like option 3 the most though, everywhere would be delighted to host you. How about letting the LaSalle County host a charity event for you to give a speech. It could be even bigger than Penny Arcade Rock n Roll Glam Concert.


  51. - NoGifts - Wednesday, Oct 23, 19 @ 8:11 am:

    Do the speech and make it pointed.


  52. - Payback - Wednesday, Oct 23, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    Do the speech, you have nothing to hide. Make the City Club live up to its lofty stated goals of furthering civic engagement.

    Be aware that City Club chairman Dr. Ed Mazur “edited” my audience question in 2016, and an audience question for Kwame Raoul at the Union League Club Monday was censored by emcee Jacki Robinson Ivy. Raoul’s staff at the Attorney General’s office will “get back to” the questioner.

    Raoul flew out of the luncheon like he had wings. They must have smuggled him out on the freight elevator, or he rappelled down the side of the building like Batman. I blinked and he was gone.


  53. - Yooper in Diaspora - Wednesday, Oct 23, 19 @ 9:49 pm:

    I like traditions, especially if they involve an engaging or witty speech, but an online fundraiser would allow more to be involved. LSSI is always worth supporting.


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