Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Governor Quinn downplays controversial bill for undocumented residents

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Governor Quinn downplays controversial bill for undocumented residents
I was there not too surprised when Gov. Pat Quinn spoke in Spanish phrases to the more than 300 Hispanics who gathered at the Latino Institute to support his symbolic early signing of a new state law that would grant drivers licenses to undocumented residents, mainly of Hispanic heritage.
Governor Quinn downplays controversial bill for undocumented residents, speaks to packed Latino Institute audienceQuinn not only repeated such phrases as “Si se puede!” (Yes we can!) in Spanish, but he also added a Spanish inflection when introducing Hispanic speakers like the co-sponsor of the bill State Rep. Ed Acevedo and supporter Lisa Hernandez.
The way he was going on and on about how important this bill is, you would have thought that Gov. Quinn would have showcased the bill signing, which grants licenses to undocumented residents as long as the also obtain automobile insurance.
This morning I received Quinn’s official newsletter which summarized the significant things he has done in office. They included items from the past month of January, such as: celebrating one year of tax relief; a school safety summit he hosted; elementary school programs requiring sexual abuse education and more.
And then there was one he titled “traffic safety.”
Traffic safety sounded interesting. And when I read it, I realized it was the event I attended where he repeatedly told the audience that “undocumented residents” would have a chance to apply for drivers licenses in Illinois.
Gov. Quinn is not unlike most other politicians who claim they are doing something good.
They are all “politically correct” in their own ways.
Although the Illinois Committee for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) hosted the event at the Latino Institute at 25th and Western Avenue and claimed to speak for all of the region’s Hispanics, many Hispanics were left out of the “celebration,” even though those Hispanics did much to pass the bill.
Quinn was happy to jump up and down and garble his Spanish for an audience of supporters of the bill, but he knows that the bill is not that popular among non-Hispanic residents who fear it is a backdoor way to embrace undocumented residents, which critics refer to disparagingly as “illegal aliens.”
So he needs to play the bill down because he knows it will become a major issue in the upcoming election when he will be challenged by Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford who is expected to challenge him, if in fact Quinn manages to survive as a candidate. There is a good chance that Lisa Madigan, the accomplished Illinois Attorney General will run for Governor, too. Madigan is the “Hillary Clinton” of Illinois politics. Very popular and someone many voters want to lead our state government.
The politics of issues is so hypocritical. Politicians like Quinn want it both ways. They want the credit where the credit will benefit them, but they don’t want what they do to annoy others who may not like it.
The ICIRR is much like that. I served on the ICIRR board as an American Arab but eventually left when I realized that the ICIRR, when I was on the board, was not as much interested in helping all immigrants as they were in flexing their political muscle in very specific political ways.
In other words, their politics, at the time, meant more than embracing principle across the board. I don’t know that much about the current board. Maybe they have changed. Maybe they haven’t changed. The issue, though, is that I think the political animal can’t really change. Politicians can’t change their stripes. They are ALL driven by an inherent drive to promote themselves and make themselves look good.
And it doesn’t matter what party they are from. Those who claim to be progressive and liberal often are as conservative and dictatorial an hypocritical as are those that they often criticize is unethically.
Like at the event at the Latino Institute when some organizers and supporters of U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez – who 20 years ago I worked with as a campaign adviser to get him elected to Congress – who are engaged in a fight to be the self-appointed spokespeople for the Hispanic community.
They did everything they could to prevent State Sen. Martin Sandoval and his allies including the mayors of two of the towns that have the largest Hispanic populations outside of Chicago, the Town of Cicero’s President Larry Dominick, who is one of my eight clients, and Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico.
Suddenly the effort to bring drivers licenses to undocumented residents has become a battering ram for political gain.
Why should Governor Quinn be any different, I guess, in manipulating the issue for his own political benefit when the people he is surrounding himself with play politics with ethics and principle all the time?
The bill is an important one, and definitely controversial. The new law won’t take effect until November 1, nine months from now, and applicants will receive drivers licenses with a red and blue bar across the top so they can be easily identified.
Also joining Quinn and Gutierrez were Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, the senate sponsor of the bill, and State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross.
There are restrictions on the licenses, which are not played up much so as not to weaken the political capitol Quinn hopes to get from the Hispanic community when he seeks re-election.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “To qualify for a license, an applicant must prove they have lived in Illinois for a least a year and show that they are ineligible for a Social Security card. Documents that will be accepted include a copy of a lease, utility bills and a valid passport or consular identification card. Drivers must also pass vision, written and road tests and pay a $30 fee. In order for the license to remain valid, a driver also will be required to get insurance. If a person with a temporary visitor's license is caught driving without insurance, they will be ticketed for both driving without insurance as well as driving without a license. People who want to apply for the licenses must first make an appointment at one of eight designated facilities across the state. Licenses will not be issued on the spot but only after the state can verify application information and perform a facial recognition search against other databases.”
(Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is currently president of Urban Strategies Group and the Town of Cicero and President Larry Dominick are among his clients. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate. Reach him at
View this column on the Examiner news site. Click here

State approves licenses for undocumented residents in Illinois as politics plays out behind the scenes

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Commentary & Opinion
State approves licenses for undocumented residents in Illinois as politics plays out behind the scenes
Cicero Town President Larry Dominick speaks with Secretary of State Jesse White and State Senator Martin Sandoval just before the press conference announcing the new legislation giving licenses to undocumented residentsGov. Pat Quinn symbolically signed legislation Sunday at the Latino Institute that would allow undocumented non-resident aliens to obtaindrivers licenses. The measure will take effect beginning Nov. 1 of this year, nine months from the date of signing.
The proposal had bi-partisan support and the governor was surrounded by Republican and Democratic legislators including Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno at his side in making the announcement.
The press conference also turned into a behind-the-scenes political battle as allies of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who is battling several municipal governments in the west suburbs, fought to prevent his political foes from speaking at the event.
Although the hosts of the program introduced many of the dignitaries including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, State Reps. Lisa Hernandez and Edward Acevedo, the organizers refused to acknowledge others in the audience who represent large Mexican Americancommunities including Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, and State Sen. Martin Sandoval.
Gutierrez is backing Dominick's challenger, Juan Ochoa, in the Feb. 26 mayoral contest and is at odds with Serpico and Sandoval over issues in the west suburbs.
But Dominick said that he wouldn't be bullied by Gutierrez, noting, "The Town of Cicero was the first municipality to endorse this legislation. It's a good bill because it requires that you must have insurance in order to receive a license. It is going to make our communities and streets safer and make drivers safer, too. It's a common sense bill."
The Cicero Town Board approved the bill at its public board meeting on Nov. 13. The bill was introduced to the legislature several weeks later.
Sandoval said it was ironic that Cicero, which has one of the state's largest Mexican American populations, would not be recognized as a place where the legislation would have its most significant impact.
"President Dominick has been a strong supporter of the Hispanic community, especially the Mexican American community and they know how much he has done," Sandoval said. "It was unfortunate that his support was not acknowledged."
To read the Governor's press release and video statement on the signing, click here.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is currently president of Urban Strategies Group and the Town of Cicero and President Larry Dominick are among his clients. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate. Reach him at
View this column at the Examiner News Site. Click here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Early peek at the Auto Show with a visit to Detroit's event

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Detroit isn't called Mo-Town for nothing. Its the home of the auto industry and I figured, instead of waiting till the Auto Show comes to Chicago, the mountain will go to the Auto Show. So I took my son this past weekend to Detroit and attended the opening day, Saturday, at the Cobo Arena, which is next door to the Joe Louis Arena and the tunnel to Windsor, Canada across the river.

I realize that auto shows in any city are all the same, organized by the same automobile companies. Detroit is famous for Ford so it wasn't surprising that Ford dominated the largest floor space at the Cobo Arena.

The first thing you want to do is get a "material" or "cloth" bag to carry around as you start collecting all the brochures and buttons and any of the other junk you might waste your money on while at the Auto Show. But the only auto makers who give away bags are the ones you don't want to be caught dead associated with.

I don't like Toyotas, but they handed out the most bags. It's not that everyone loves Toyota -- or dislikes the maker as much as I do. It's about convenience. And I give Toyota credit for thinking about the show-goers and the public. Show Bags ARE Important, auto people. You want us to buy your cars? Make a better car and give us a show bag.

You won't find show bags at the luxury displays like at the show platforms for Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati. They are some cool cars but the only reason to spend your time staring at them -- usually from behind a rope and standard or through a clear plexiglass window is to just stare. I can't afford one of those cars and I figure the few people who can afford one of those cars probably has already been given a special showing on the new models at their luxury auto dealerships where they have probably already purchased one of those expensive wastes of hard-earned money.

Who in their right mind would drive a Ferrari around Detroit anyway? And where would you drive it to truly enjoy its powerful engine? Maybe Montana. But I doubt cowboys spend much money on luxury cars. I think they prefer horses, don't they?

There was one car display that was cool. This was the one where a guy on a computer was using a touch screen and his finger to "paint" displays on the computer screen that automatically displayed on the side of the "futuristic concept car."

"We're not selling this car. It's just a concept," the polite worker explained to the audience. 

Well, I'll tell you what. If you can put that on my next car -- under $40,000 please because the costs of cars are already so outrageous it's disgusting -- I might buy the feature instead of wasting my money on Sirius-XM or those worthless extra features they offer you above and beyond basic navigation. (My service that tells me when roads are under construction is always late by weeks. And it doesn't seem to tell me anything until I am already bumper-to-bumper in a construction traffic jam. So what's the point?

Why doesn't the auto industry get something right?

But still, I wanted to take my son to the 2013 Auto Show just the way my dad took me to the 1963 or 64 Auto Show in Chicago. (I think it was at the Amphitheater. Was McCormick place even built in 1964? I don't think so.) [So I broke down and looked it up online, folks. McCormick Place was completed in 1960. So maybe it was at McCormick Place. It's all a blur anyway who who cares today besides me anyway?]

I have a black and white picture taken by my dad of my brother and I standing in front of a white Polar Bear -- is that redundant? Behind it was part of the "Chicago Auto Show" banner. It's memorable. Here it is.

I could find a polar bear where I could take a picture of my son and there didn't seem to be any good places where you could stand to get a good shot with the show name in the background of my son.

Instead, he preferred to jump from car to car and sit in the driver's seat -- he's only 11 anyway -- and pretend that he's driving. 

You quickly realize that the cheaper automakers leave their cars open and are more accommodating to the public when it comes to letting your kids or the family money-ball manager to sit in the car driver's seat. Toyota did -- I may have to reconsider the carmaker in the future. So did Ford and Chevy. But not any of the rich luxury car makers. It bothered my son that they are "so rich and they treat the average person so badly."

Good point Aaron. The rich luxury automakers do treat us pedestrians so shabby. I'm not buying one of their junky cars. Well, I couldn't afford to but then, it just makes me feel better to say it.

So we took a picture instead with the Jay Leno life-sized cardboard cut-out. Couldn't find a good spot to grab that picture. We did the same with Vanna White and Pat Sajak. We didn't waste our time with Ellen Degeneres or Jimmy Fallon. (Fallon's okay but two pictures with two fake cardboard life-sized cut-outs is more than enough, even for an 11 year old.)

So that's the picture my kid will probably show someone 50 years from now when he reminisces about the time we drove to Detroit to see the North American International Auto Show (That's what they call it folks, not the Detroit Auto Show). Him standing with Jay Leno. Although 50 years from know, will anyone remember Jay Leno? Do they remember Johnny Carson? It's easier to remember white Polar Bears but I guess the question is, for how long will they be around?

It's all too depressing. We left and walked past Joe Louis Arena where they were lining up for a Pistons game. And then we drove past Tigers Stadium to take pictures of the beautiful concrete lions. That place is next to my heart only to Wrigley Field.

Now that's a picture worth showing off.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Does Carol Marin of Sun-Times, NBC and WTTW lie intentionally or just when her friends are involved?

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Does Carol Marin of Sun-Times, NBC and WTTW lie intentionally or just when her friends are involved?

Carol Marin was whining last week because she asked me some really stupid questions and I responded with a "No."

 This week, she asked me some even dumber questions, but I answered them with FACTS. She is determined to say that Andrew Madigan, who works for Mesirow, which has been Cicero's longstanding workers comp insurance company, represents Cicero.

It's not true. Someone else from Mesirow represents the account. Always has. I gave her the info, figuring I didn't want her to go on another political hissy fit, and she stills writes the LIE this morning in her Sun-Times Column.

WHAT'S REALLY FASCINATING IS THAT MESIROW OWNS the Chicago Sun-Times where she writes her lies. Wow. What an unethical journalist, just because her BEST FRIEND happens to be working the legal side of the faltering challenge against Larry Dominick in Cicero.

(25 of the 27 challenges from Nally and Odelson have been tossed by the independent board ... the remaining 2 come up this week and will be tossed, too, because they have no merit.)

But why would Carol Marin write the facts when she can write a lie that sounds so much better in her column. She is truly unethical. She has a candidate in this election.

Did something happen to you in Cicero many years ago Carol that you are not telling anyone about your past in Cicero that maybe is prompting you to make up these stories and ignoring the facts?

It's amazing that someone can crawl so high in today's journalism and lie so much. You are disgraceful. Of course, maybe that's why journalism is having the problems it is having, Carol Marin?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Jeremiah Joyce: Remembering Chicago’s political best

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Remembering Chicago’s political best
By Ray Hanania

Oftentimes, we only think of the people who made it to the highest of political ranks when we reminisce about Chicago’s history, and usually on the date of some “anniversary.”

The other day we remembered the death of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Washington was certainly one of the most interesting city executives. He had the best sense of humor and did what many tried to do, bring reform to the City Council.

Sometimes we ignore those who should be better remembered, like former Mayor Jane M. Byrne, who slammed Chicago politics like a Tsunami. We don’t hear much about her, but we should.

But I want to recall someone I truly admired as a political genius. We haven’t heard much about him over the years, except when his son briefly took over the helm in the 19th Ward. Jeremiah Joyce.

Joyce was a Chicago alderman when I met him. A brilliant strategist with a mischievous inclination for political intrigue. I remember when Byrne was mayor giving a speech to the precinct captains at the old Bismarck Hotel – the same place where her predecessor Michael A. Bilandic compared himself to Jesus Christ before losing to Byrne – a helium balloon carrying a tape-recording of the late Mayor Daley blared loudly above everyone’s heads warning them that either they “hang together or hang separately.”

That was a time when Mayor Byrne was obsessed with destroying the career of Daley’s son Richie. Byrne defeated the Machine and then became its head with the rotted politically support of Ald. Ed Vrdolyak and CHA Boss Charlie Swibel.

Instead of destroying Daley, Byrne persecuted Little Richie Daley, politically martyred him and with Joyce’s brilliance, turned Daley into one of Chicago’s greatest mayors.

Joyce was a former Chicago cop and former assistant state’s attorney. He was a member of the Mensa Society, a place reserved for true geniuses scoring among the top 2 percent on standardized intelligence testing. There were not too many members of the Chicago City Council who qualified in that narrow region of intelligence. Most were in the 2 percent at the other end of the spectrum.

It wasn’t just that Joyce was so much more brilliant than the rest of his colleagues, like the one alderman who lost his loaded gun leaving it on top of a City Hall toilet during a council meeting.

Joyce wasn’t just brilliant. He understood the reality of Chicago politics and didn’t covet it the way others did. He loved his ward, always bringing home the bacon for his neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Mt. Greenwood.

I first met Joyce at the annual Snowflake Ball in Beverly Hills. He arranged an interview with Bilandic and later introduced me to one of the most colorful and quotable characters Chicago, the late Ald. Roman Pucinski. Pucinski had a class you don’t see often these days in City Hall. He struck a powerful profile of power and leadership with his long white hair.

Our falling out happened when I happened upon two of Byrne’s bodyguards working the Anna’s Fried Dough booth in 1980 at ChicagoFest, an event Byrne vowed to cancel. Byrne secretly gave Mike Graney and Rory O’Connor the lucrative concession. They blamed Joyce believing he tipped me off. In fact, it was the greed and arrogance of Byrne, Graney and O’Connor that got them in trouble.

Oh, the old days were great. I know that I’m not the only one who misses them.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at