Monday, February 23, 2009

Bolingbrook epitomizes suburban election failures

Last week, Bonnie Kurowski-Alicea, a mild mannered college professor housewife with two children and a consulting business, was thrown off the April 7 Bolingbrook mayoral election ballot.

The decision was made by a Bolingbrook election board which adheres to a rotten and unfair suburban Illinois election process, a process which is among the most ethically challenged in the nation. It is the most abused in the six-county suburban Chicago region The election body ruled that Bonnie Kurowski-Alicea ( could not run for office because:

1 -- The Bolingbrook election review board questioned why signatures on her petitions were not written in Cursive
2 -- Some of the petition signatures looked "sloppy"
3 -- Her own signature was challenged as a fraud because, according to the Bolingbrook election review judges, they didn't look the same and therefore she did not sign the petitions herself
4 -- the forms that the Bolingbrook election board gave her to fill out and submit to the village were inaccurate and wrong
5 -- 40 of the people who signed her ballot allegedly were not registered voters

But I suspect the real reason why Mrs. Alecia was kicked off the ballot is political. She was running against Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar who is never short of controversies and runs Bolingbrook like a Chicago Machine Ward organization.

The judges on the election review board included: Carol Penning, Sandra Swinkunas and Leroy Brown, all elected officials in the village and all political cronies of Mayor Claar. (Penning is the village clerk and Brown and Swinkunas are trustees.)

The big-shot attorney representing the challengers was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times asserting incredulously, "Because Bonnie signed her own petition two different ways. . . . How do I know that the Bonnie Alicea on the bottom is the same Bonnie Alicea on line 14?"

Are you kidding me? I sign my signature so many different ways it's pathetic. The law doesn't say that Mrs. Alecia has to sign her petitions with a signature that is identical. It says she has to sign the stupid petitions herself. She says she does. The election board said she didn't, in questioning her signatures. But it is Mrs. Alecia who has the burden of proof, not her accusers. She appeared at the hearing and told the board the signatures were hers.

There's more. The partisan election review board sent her a package of material two days before the hearings started showing Mrs. Alecia the signatures that were being challenged. So, she spent time diligently getting the voters to confirm they signed the petitions. It turns out the names supplied to her were not the names challenged at the board hearing at all.

Suprise, surprise!

When she went to the hearing, they apparently saw she had confirmed the signatures and suddenly claimed other signatures were being challenged that were invalid.

The election hearing, which according to Mrs. Alecia was dragged out over days, ended with a closed door meeting in which the election judges, Mrs. Alecia said, were told how to rule on the challenge against Alecia.

This is one of the most outrageous, most egregiously pathetic examples of why our suburban elections are so unfair and unjust.

I emailed Mayor Claar the following letter. Hopefully he will reply (and I will publish it when he does):

Hi Mayor Claar:

I’m doing stories on Bonnie Alecia being thrown off the ballot by the
Bolingbrook election board and wondered if I could get a response from you
…. Also, I’d love to have you come on my morning radio show to defend the
decision …

People in Bolingbrook are speculating that you think you would lose a one-on-one election with a mild-mannered school teacher, mother with two children and would like to know if you want to respond to those feelings, too

Thanks so much and best regards

You can go to my RadioChicagoland web site and listen to the podcast radio interview with Bonnie Kurowski-Alecia on the village election board's ridiculous ruling.

-- Ray Hanania

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