Blagojevich denied “missing witness” defense in “missing evidence” case
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Does one juror have the courage?
Blagojevich denied “missing witness” defense in “missing evidence” case
Blagojevich denied “missing witness” defense in “missing evidence” case
By Ray Hanania
Everything about the prosecution of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich stinks.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald justified his rush to condemnation, putting his arrest and charges before presenting any solid evidence in a court of law, by asserting that there was a real threat that Blagojevich was about to “sell” the vacated Senate seat of President Barack Obama to the highest bidder.
He even made it sound like Blagojevich was selling the seat not for campaign contributions to his strongest supporter – something many politicians do but no one seems to care – but for personal benefit. Putting cash in his pocket.
Yet after a month of trial, the prosecution didn’t bother to argue the original thesis and they didn’t bring in Congressman Jesse L. Jackson or even Antoine “Tony” Rezko the benevolent and oft-maligned campaign fundraiser and accused money schemer.
When Blagojevich’s attorneys sought to point out that the prosecutors didn’t even call the litany of witnesses they claimed were involved in the case in an 18 month public kangaroo court that resulted in the former governor’s impeachment BEFORE any facts were proven or evidence was weighed by a jury of his peers.
No, instead they focused on other issues that certainly would not have made great headlines as justification to rush in to anything involving compromising a person’s right to be innocent until proven guilty.
Judge James Zagel said he would not permit what the news media has referred to as the “missing witness” defense. Blagojevichs attorney, Sam Adams Jr., wanted the jury to know that after all the bombast, and higher-than-thou pontificating about justice, the prosecutors just brushed it all away. Rezko. And everyone else.
The tragedy is that Blagojevich’s real crime is not that he is a crook but that he is so disliked because of his arrogant, insensitive and abrasive personality. He’s annoying, difficult to listen to and consumed with a persecution complex that everyone is picking on him, even though as governor he picked on many others, too, and threw his own clout around when he felt it was in his own benefit.
He also was very aggressive about raising money for his re-election and future in politics having won a second term as governor. After all, he had no choice. His enemies in the state legislature and the news media, who literally “hated” Blagojevich, greased through a so-called reform bill that targeted the governor to make it harder for him to raise money, even though his challengers could raise money using all kinds of techniques too unethical for the governor.
So he was under pressure and he often spoke wildly and ruthlessly about pushing his supporters, many of them contractors and benefactors of state business – where else have I heard about that system operating before? – to donate huge sums of money.
Blagojevich did what the rest of them did and do. They’re just better liked, less hated and more discreet about how they raise funds from contractors and contributors.
Blagojevich was judged by the media and the politicians for making a public spectacle of himself yelling loudly that he is innocent at every opportunity he could find. Yet, isn’t that what the prosecutors did for 18 months, yell at every opportunity that Blagojevich was guilty and poisoned the atmosphere with one-sided leaks about what was said in secretly taped telephone conversations.
The prosecution did a number of Blagojevich and the mainstream news media helped. But only when Blagojevich tried to fight back did the media play their true role of lapdogs for the prosecution.
This trial was fixed from day one. Blagojevich had no real chance at a fair trial.
While Zagel, a judge who knows which side of the judicial system his bread is buttered, between an extremely unpopular former governor abused by the system, or the prosecution which could do no wrong in the eyes of the mainstream news media that viciously attacked and defamed Blagojevich at every chance they could get, denied the defense to use the “missing witness” defense, he in fact allowed the prosecutors to use an even more pernicious strategy. The “missing evidence” prosecution.
Did Blagojevich put one penny in his pocket. No. But the prosecution read his mind and used his private conversations to turn them in to proof that if given time, he would have eventually put the money in his pocket. That they couldn’t wait for him to do that only proves that it was unlikely that he would. And this “missing evidence” case is merely a dirtied mirror of the failings of the American Judicial system.
I hope Blagojevich walks. I hope at least one juror has the guts that no one else in this state has to stand up and declare loudly that the U.S. Constitution that guarantees every human being the right to defend themselves in a fair court of law and that they are innocent until proven guilty.
Blagojevich was convicted in the court of public opinion led by the lynch mob of the biased mainstream news media and a kangaroo court of hypocrites in Illinois politics, starting with his former Democratic running mate and now successor Gov. Pat Quinn.
Worse, he was guilty going in to the trial and the entire process was geared to prevent him from proving his innocence in the face of a pernicious “missing evidence” strategy.
I hope one juror has the common sense and insight to look past the pressures of the biased media and the biased political system in a state condemned for its culture of corruption long before Blagojevich arrived on the scene.
One juror who has the courage to do what’s right. To stand up to the avalanche of bias and stand up for justice.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Peraica insists he is not obsessed with Liz Gorman
By Ray Hanania
Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica says he is too busy working on other election campaigns than to bother himself with complaints from his colleague Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman.
The two commissioners have been rivals since the very first time they said hello to each other.
And Peraica emphatically denies any role in the mudslinging candidacy of his friend, Mark Thompson, who challenged Gorman in the February 2, 2010 Republican Primary for the 17th District seat. Peraica also says he doesn’t know Pat Maher, the dynasty poster-child in the Hynes and 19th Ward family clan who faces-off with Gorman in November.
(I have included Peraica’s email response to this column at the bottom of this blog with my commentary where necessary.)
Yet, in a report issued by an examiner of the Illinois Election Board detailing possible unethical and illegal misconduct in the reporting of election campaign disclosures by the Thompson campaign, Peraica’s name is cited seven times.
Peraica called to take issue with my blog (Click HERE to read) and column (Click HERE to read) addressing all this. I detailed the examiner’s report and included it in full on the blog posting (Click HERE to read).
It raised serious questions about Peraica’s role in the Thompson campaign. Money changed hands and, according to the examiner, was not properly disclosed. That is a serious violation. The Election Board will review the examiner’s report at its meeting on July 19, this week.
“All I ever gave Thompson was a $100 donation. I attended a breakfast that he had. He was on our sample ballot but that’s because he won the endorsement of the Lyons Township Republican Organization. I did endorse Thompson because I am a part of the Lyons Republican Organization. That was decided by the members and Gorman was also considered for endorsement,” Peraica insisted.
“We did things for Thompson that we did for other endorsed candidates.”
Peraica said that a $1,000 payment to GOP Media was actually payment to Tom Swiss, Thompson’s campaign manager, who also runs a direct-mail operation that handled Peraica’s primary election materials.
“I can’t be blamed for what Swiss did with the money,” Peraica insisted. “I paid him for doing my direct mail $2,000.”
Peraica also said to me in referring to the report, “I think you are reading too much between the lines … I bought a set of emails from Swiss for Republican Voters in the 16th District where I was running two races at the time. That’s what I used it for, for my races not for Mark Thompson. I paid for that data that Swiss generated for me. What he does with it is not my business.
But the examiner’s report directly challenges Peraica’s claims. In fact, the examiner’s report states flatly that the money Peraica donated was intended to help Thompson, a clear contradiction to what Peraica insisted when he spoke to me.
The report explains Peraica’s involvement with Thompson differently:
“This check was a contribution from Stephen Bolton, which was reported on the Respondent's December 2009 Semi Annual Report as a contribution for $2,000, even though $1000 of this contribution was not received until after January 1, 2010. The second item was a check dated January 20, 2010 from Citizens for Peraica payable to GOP Media in the amount of $1,000. Mr. Swiss testified that this check was given to GOP Media for the benefit of the Respondent/Committee as part of a $2000 "Transfer In" that was previously reported as received by the Respondent/Committee on December 15, 2009.”
The examiner’s report continues:
“Clearly the $1000 check from Citizens for Peraica to GOP Media was made for the benefit of Mark Thompson and therefore violates this statute.”
This happens in politics all the time. One politician wants to help someone else and they often disguise their role intentionally to avoid being associated with mudslinging. But the report pulls the veil off the Thompson campaign and Peraica is clearly there.
“There is a fixation [by Hanania] on this Gorman-Peraica thing. There is an obsession but it is with her, not me. She continues to take swipes at me every time she sees me at a board meeting. She supports my candidate against me in the Democratic primary. She is attacking me. I don’t have a fixation with her. She has a fixation with me. I am happy to have my record speak for itself,” Peraica said, not hesitating to slam her husband Gerry Gorman and to question their past financial dealings with an auto dealership they owned.
If Peraica really didn’t have anything to do with Thompson running against Gorman and if he doesn’t care about Gorman, then he should publicly repudiate Thompson and his campaign and publicly point a finger at Thompson and Swiss and blame them for the mess.
I don’t think that is going to happen.
PERAICA’S EMAIL IN RESPONSE TO HIS SEEING
THIS COLUMN BEFORE IT WAS PUBLISHED:
THIS COLUMN BEFORE IT WAS PUBLISHED:
Thanks for the call back and discussion.
The title and premise of this piece is wrong. The purpose of my call was to challenge your assertion that "Peraica always makes an enemy of a friend," not to "obsess over Cmr. Gorman."
Liz Gorman is a non-issue, as far as I am concerned. She has her record to run her race on, and I have mine. She has her associations and supporters, and I have mine. I do not wish to engage with her or you in that kind of back and forth.
These are the facts regarding the Thompson v. Gorman primary race.
The State Board of Election examiner's report is filled with innuendo, speculation and fiction concocted by Gerry and Liz Gorman, and advanced by Todd Stroger's attorney, Burt Odelson.
Thompson decided to challenge Gorman in the primary for commissioner position, while running for re-election as GOP committeeman.
I had two opponents in the primary, recruited, endorsed and financially supported by Liz Gorman: Mr. Pittacora, who ran as a GOP committeeman candidate against me, and, Mr. Sloan who ran against me for commissioner. Ms Gorman, and her husband Gerry Gorman, actively and diligently worked on behalf of both Mr. Pittacora and Mr. Sloan, along with Stroger's supporters: Cmr. Joseph Mario Moreno, Ron Serpico and Larry Dominick (all democrats) in order to try to defeat me.
[HANANIA COMMENTS: This assertion is typical of Peraica’s exaggerations for political benefit. Dominick is an independent not a Democrat and was a Republican all his life. So the name-calling is unjustified. Though Moreno is a Democrat and Serpico may be, the fact is they were UNINVOLVED in the Gorman race.]
We defeated both of our opponents by roughly a 75%-25% margin.
When both Mr. Thompson and Ms. Gorman appeared in front of Republican Organization of Lyons Township (ROLT), they were both given a chance to address the assembled members. Mr. Thompson was almost unanimously endorsed over Liz Gorman for commissioner position. Both ROLT and I, therefore, put Mr. Thompson on our sample ballot, put up some of his signs and did what we normally do for all of our endorsed GOP candidates.
Since both Cmr. Gorman, Cmr. Moreno and other democrats circulated petitions for and supported my opponents Pittacora and Sloan, I attended a Mark Thompson fundraiser and donated $250 to him on November 30, 2009. This is the only donation that I made to Mr. Thompson. I endorsed and supported Mark Thompson in his races for commissioner and committeeman.
Due to the vigorous opposition from Mr Pittacora and Sloan against me, financed and directed largely by Gormans, I had to expend substantial effort and money to run my own races in the primary and did not focus at all on the Thompson/Gorman contest.
In January 2010, I purchased a current list of all emails from GOP Media owned by Tom Swiss in order to get my information out via email to all GOP voters in the 16th district. I paid $1000 to GOP Media for the compilation and transmission of the list. What GOP Media or Mr. Swiss did with the $1000 thereafter, I do not know, or care. GOP Media provided a service to our campaign and we paid GOP Media an agreed price of $1,000. This was not a "disguised" donation to anyone else.
Ms Gorman and Mr. Moreno bought and paid for Pittacora and Sloan signs, postage and literature against me, but I simply wrote it off as a political campaign move, acknowledged it, and did not file frivolous State Board of Election charges that do nothing but cost taxpayers unnecessary expense.
Commissioners Moreno and Gorman chose to file these frivolous charges against Thompson in order to drag my name through the mud, not with expectation of doing anything to Thompson.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: Peraica is secondary in the examiner’s report and I urge everyone to read it fully. Peraica is mentioned towards the bottom.]
As a journalist, you should always consider both sides, and not simply accept one sided allegations and accusations of political opponents.
The State Board of Election will have a fact finding hearing sometime later this year and all of this will be fleshed out in a contested adversarial hearing where both sides will have a chance to present their evidence and arguments via their respective counsels.
It will not be a one-sided conclusion by a politically appointed state "examiner", a non-attorney, who took only one-sided allegations presented by Todd Stroger's/Com Gorman's attorney Burt Odelson.
I will not denounce Thompson or any other candidate who chooses to run in a open, free, democratic primary races. That is called democracy. I support good-government candidates, and oppose those who are not. Mr. Thompson is a good-government candidate, and Cmrs. Gorman and Moreno are not.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: That’s why Peraica is so way off base, defending Thompson’s mudslinging viciousness and asserting it is “good government.”]
How candidates choose to run their campaigns is their business and they must be held accountable for what they do or say. I will not be held responsible for other candidates or their workers.
From what I remember, everything that Thompson said about Cmr. Gorman was true and accurate. In fact, there was a lot more that he could have said. But, that was his choice and he and his campaign should be held responsible. Not I.
It is interesting to note that Cmr. Moreno lost his race to his opponent Mr. Garcia as he obsessed over my races, while Cmr. Gorman barely beat Mr. Thompson in a very close race.
Both of my Moreno/Stroger/Gorman backed opponents, Pittacora and Sloan, were defeated overwhelmingly.
I hope that this clarifies some of the facts, and that you include them in the story as appropriate.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: It doesn’t. But in fairness to you, something you blogging pals do not offer themselves, I am willing to share your points.]
Friday, July 16, 2010
Newest episode of Star Chef Chicagoland scheduled for viewing
The second episode of the locally produced “Star Chef Chicagoland”reality show is scheduled for broadcast on Fridays on Comcast Cable TV Channel 19 in 145 suburban communities each week. The show features celebrity chefs making their favorite recipes for a panel of celebrity judges and is hosted by Ray Hanania, a columnist with Creators Syndicate and host of a weekday morning radio show on WJJG 1530 AM Radio.
Episode 2 features Second City comedian Aaron Freeman and his wife Sharon Rosenzweig making Challah Shabbat Jewish Bread and garlic pole beans. The celebrity judges include Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman (R-17th District), former White Sox Pitcher Billy Pierce, Les Aims Escoiffier member Nemer Ziyad and Bryan Sord the owner of 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant where the show is taped each month. Ziyad is the vice president of Ziyad Brothers Importing, one of the nation’s largest distributors of Mediterranean Foods and also Wild Garden Hummus Dip.
All episodes are also available for viewing online at www.StarChefChicagoland.com. The show airs in Palos Park, Palos Hills and Orland Park at 8:30 PM. It airs in Palos Heights at 7 PM. More listings are available online.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Americans are supposed to be better and different
By Ray Hanania
America defines itself as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Yet when you challenge American policies, many Americans respond defensively arguing, “Well, they do that and worse in other countries.”
For example, when Muslims try to convert Christians in the United States, critics of the practice argue that their opposition is justified because “they have the same kind of ban in Saudi Arabia where Christians are prohibited from missionary work.”
But is that a good defense? We do it, but they do it worse?
There is a massive wave of new Americanism spreading throughout the United States. It has to do with several factors: fear of Muslims and a misunderstanding of Islam; the fact that many of the terrorists attacking Western targets are Muslim; the swell of illegal immigration from Mexico; growing rightwing extremism that promotes isolation from the rest of the international world.
And it’s not just in Arizona, where a good idea was bastardized into a political football by a Republican Governor who needs it to get elected.
Arizona has a huge illegal immigration problem. But the answer isn’t to single out Hispanic looking people and ask them to produce citizenship papers. That suggests that all Caucasians are citizens, which is not true, though the real problem is the drug war in Mexico that is spilling over in to our borders.
The problem also is that when police stop people for violations, they have to assume they are citizens. They ticket them and the illegal immigrants run back across the border. But if police could ask everyone the same question – produce proof of citizenship – Hispanic, brown skin or Caucasion, white skin, maybe their job would be a little easier.
We need to do something about the flow of illegal immigrants entering this country. Maybe we could follow the practices of Mexico, which jails anyone who does not have a proper visa or Mexican citizenship document.
But that Mexico is worse is not the answer to our problem.
Because America is supposed to be better. Freer. More democratic. More open. And more committed to civil rights. Isn’t that why we are a better country.
So why does an obscure back of the yards community like Homer Township – I know, you’ve probably never heard of it – feel compelled to pass a law declaring that English is the official language of their township?
They don’t have more important problems to solve?
The rural community of only 25,000 people with a growing suburban neighborhood base approved a new law that says English must be recognized as “the dominant language of Homer Township.”
And, not satisfied with the implications of that move, the board also voted to enforce residency laws that uphold federal immigration laws.
It’s all cute language to say that the leadership in Homer Township doesn’t want you to speak any foreign languages when you stop at McDonalds to buy a Big Mac. They don’t want you to count out your change in Spanish when you are filling up your car with gas. And they certainly don’t want any people taking orders at Middle Eastern bakeries for falafel in Arabic.
Sounds a little paranoid to me. And it all sounds very un-American, too.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago Radio Talk Show Host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2010
POLICE OBTAIN ARREST WARRANT FOR STEPHEN MILLER IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF ADAM ABDALLAH
On June 23, 2010, Officers from the Bridgeview Police Department responded to the Shell Gas Station located at
8700 S. Harlem Ave reference a fight involving multiple subjects, which resulted in the death of one of the victims: 27 year old Adam Abdallah.
Detectives from Bridgeview Police and the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, working from leads developed during this investigation, identified the offenders involved as Matthew Doolan 24 years old, Marchello Cappelletti 23 years old, and Stephen Miller 18 years old, all of the Southwest Suburbs.
Matthew Doolan and Marchello Cappelletti have been arrested and charged in this incident.
On July 2, 2010, the Bridgeview Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Stephen Miller for Murder in connection with the death of Adam Abdallah.
Anyone having information on Stephen Miller’s whereabouts is asked to call the Bridgeview Police Department at 708-458-2131.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I went to Walgreens again, where they have a digital photo machine that supposedly allows you to pick and print pictures. I guess if I didn't take many photos it might work, but twice now I've tried to upload photos from two CDs only to be told at the end of the upload (into the Walgreens Machine) that there was an error -- too many photos, too long of a time (25 minutes waiting for the machine load to load the photos from two CDs, about 500 pictures on each CD.
Now, 500 pictures frome ach CD sounds like a lot, but in today's digital age where hi-tech robber barons like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs squeeze you for every penny and give you some of the worst software and computers around. They're making money on the fact that they sell us junk that 35 percent of the time doesn't work properly and another 35 percent of the time requires technology assistance (at high prices, of course) to correct.
I don't like technology, at least the reality of technology. It doesn't work. It never fulfilled the promises it made. Just when you are happy with a system and software, Jobs and Gates -- modernday technology pirates -- steal your life and require you to load new "updates" that force you to update, by the way and that change settings to force you to have to replace your software.
It's a conspiracy of greed.
So I am standing at Walgreens watching people walk in to the store with their sweat pants and hair in rollers -- yea they still exist, I guess, sadly -- as the Walgreens photo computer loads the photos from each of two CDs. And when they load, the system crashes. Again.
I liked the old 36 MM film. Then, I had to plan my shot or grab something exciting. I'd have 24 or 36 pictures that I wanted. Now, with digital cameras, I can shoot everything, including the junk. Because humans can't resist the temptation to just keep shooting, especially when the cost of shooting is no longer at the front end, with the purchase of film, but at the back end where you have then hassle to take the pictures to be loaded, processed and then printed.
It was easy. I look back at my youth and I have albums of wonderful photographs easily laid out in chronological order so I and my family and children can view life's events easily and simply.
Now, everything is digital. And although I snap more pictures in digital format with devices that keep changing, I have very little to show for it.
Society has moved the burden from the businesses to the consumers.
Remember when we would pull in to a service station and get "service?" Now, I have to pay ahead of time, no one comes out to help me, and I listen to lengthy sales pitch messages from the gasoline pump asking me do I want a rewards card? A car wash? A credit for a car wash? Pushing products in the store.
I just want my damn gasoline morons!!!!
I want my non-technology life back. That's what I want. And I want to see Jobs and Gates jailed for unethical commercial behavior that has contributed to the expedited moral decay of our society.
-- Ray Hanania
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Former White Sox Pitcher Bill Pierce poses with his wife Gloria, Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman (R-17) and 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant owner Bryan Sord. Pierce and Gorman were two of the celebrity judges appearing in the latest episode of Star Chef Chicagoland, a food reality show produced for Comcast Cable TV Channel 19 by Orland Park’s Ray Hanania. The show features celebrity chefs preparing meals for a panel of judges that also includes Nemer Ziyad, owner of Ziyad Brothers Importing and member of the Les Ames Escoiffier Society, and Sord.
The second episode, to be broadcast in August on Friday nights at 7 pm or 8:30 pm (depending on your suburb) on Channel 19 Comcast Cable, features 2nd City Comedian Aaron Freeman and his wife Sharon cooking a traditional Jewish Shabbat entre, Challah Bread and garlic string beans.
For more information on the TV show you can visit www.StarChefChicagoland.com. The show is broadcast in 145 suburban Chicagoland communities. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Kaupert).