WBEZ | Ray Hanania http://www.wbez.org/tags/ray-hanania Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As Cicero president seeks third term, town employees wear two hats http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-president-seeks-third-term-town-employees-wear-two-hats-105673 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80310454&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dominick%20courtesy%20of%20Civero%20Voters%20Alliance1.jpg" style="margin: 0px; float: left; height: 298px; width: 350px;" title="Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, what matters to some public servants is not their job duties but Larry Dominick’s reelection. (Photo courtesy of Cicero Voters Alliance)" />Once upon a time, it was hard to get a government job in the Chicago area without going through a precinct captain or another party boss. Over the years, federal court orders and corruption prosecutions have helped draw a sharper line between public service and politics. But the message hasn&rsquo;t gotten everywhere. With an election looming in Cicero, many employees of that western suburb are wearing two hats.</p><p>MITCHELL: Cicero officials this week called a press conference to warn about what they described as fraud that could swing the results of next Tuesday&rsquo;s election. It was a holiday, so Town Hall was closed. But the officials had keys. They opened up the building, invited the reporters into the council chambers, and took the podium.</p><p>HANANIA: Alright. My name is Ray Hanania. I&rsquo;m the town spokesman.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: Hanania told the reporters they couldn&rsquo;t speak with Town President Larry Dominick, who&rsquo;s running for a third four-year term. He was speaking for Dominick. And he didn&rsquo;t try to distinguish Dominick the town official from Dominick the candidate.</p><p>HANANIA: We&rsquo;re here in part to respond to some of the false charges made by the other candidates and also to set our story straight.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: Hanania called someone else to the podium.</p><p>HANANIA: Emo Cundari is the head of the Cicero Voters Alliance.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s Dominick&rsquo;s political operation. After the press conference, Hanania told me Cundari had participated not as the campaign leader but as the town&rsquo;s property-tax assessor. It&rsquo;s the sort of double identity you see a lot in Cicero. Members of Dominick&rsquo;s organization hold jobs throughout the town&rsquo;s bureaucracy and have occupied seats on all sorts of commissions &mdash; even the Cicero Election Board. Until December, that board consisted of Dominick himself and two officials seeking reelection on his slate. Their conflict of interest &mdash; in ruling, for example, which candidates qualified for the ballot &mdash; was so obvious a Cook County judge replaced the entire board with members from outside Cicero. The politics also extend to the town&rsquo;s blue-collar ranks. Tony Loconte is a maintenance worker in a local school district governed by Dominick allies. I found Loconte and other town and district employees campaigning this week at Cicero&rsquo;s early-voting sites.</p><p>MITCHELL: You still working at Morton West High School?<br />LOCONTE: Yes, I am.<br />MITCHELL: Is this part of the job, handing out palm cards for Mr. Dominick?<br />LOCONTE: No, it&rsquo;s part of my precinct captain &mdash; doing it for my precinct.<br />MITCHELL: Are you on the clock right now for the town?<br />LOCONTE: No. I&rsquo;m not on the clock for the school either.<br />MITCHELL: Does your job have any connection to this campaigning work?<br />LOCONTE: None, whatsoever.<br />MITCHELL: You&rsquo;ve never felt any pressure to do this sort of campaigning for your job.<br />LOCONTE: Excuse me. You want to follow me to the bathroom too?<br />MITCHELL: We&rsquo;re not at the bathroom.</p><p>MITCHELL: Last weekend, a campaign trying to unseat Dominick videotaped uniformed town employees canvassing voters door-to-door. Our requests to speak with Dominick about the canvass were declined. Hanania, his spokesman, said the town was just investigating possible mail-in ballot fraud. And Hanania points out that Cicero&rsquo;s hardly the only place where public employees get involved in politics.</p><p>HANANIA: You&rsquo;re not seeing town employees at their offices or at their windows, saying, &lsquo;Thank you for paying [for] the vehicle sticker. Please vote for Larry Dominick.&rsquo; These people are entitled to do whatever they want on their own time and they have to request their vacation time to do it.</p><p>MORRISON: When there&rsquo;s such an overlap between the political apparatus and the town employees, it&rsquo;s too much to be coincidental.</p><p>MITCHELL: David Morrison heads a watchdog group called the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. He says the overlap hurts taxpayers.</p><p>MORRISON: They end up paying for employees that are doing political work as opposed to taxpayer work. They&rsquo;re told from the beginning, in essence, that, &lsquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter what your job duties are. What matters is that your candidate wins.&rsquo; And, when that&rsquo;s the rule, they don&rsquo;t pay attention to what their job duties are, they don&rsquo;t worry about punching in on time. Because they understand that there&rsquo;s a secret system operating that means, as long as they deliver their precinct, they get paid.</p><p>MITCHELL: Morrison says that system will stay in place until Cicero voters get tired of it and find cleaner candidates to run.</p><p><em>Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 22:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-president-seeks-third-term-town-employees-wear-two-hats-105673 Calling all hairspray salespeople: Betty's back http://www.wbez.org/blog/calling-all-hairspray-salespeople-bettys-back <p><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//hot-breakfast-b.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-15202" title="hot-breakfast-b" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//hot-breakfast-b.jpg" alt="" width="487" height="325" /></a> <p style="text-align: center;"></p> <strong>Top story: </strong><a href="http://beachwoodreporter.com/" target="_blank">Beachwood Reporter goes on the offensive calling out the Burke family for conflicts</a>, seeing that Representative Dan Burke also gets paid to be a lobbyist (Steve got it from the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/2048163,CST-NWS-watchdogs15.article" target="_blank">Sun-Times</a>). Seriously? You can be a lobbyist, acting in someone's interest while serving as a representative for people in a district? That has to end, right? <strong> </strong> <strong>B story: </strong>Guess who's back. <a href="http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/02/betty-loren-maltese-arrives-at-chicago-halfway-house-monday.html" target="_blank">Betty's back</a>.<strong> </strong>On a day where media was focused on a deadly <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/2049656,cicero-fire-cause-under-investigation-021510.article" target="_blank">fire in Cicero</a>, the town's former leader gets out of jail. On a side note, how long has Ray Hanania been spokesperson for Cicero? Can I sign up for that job? I heard it <a href="http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/04/cicero-spokesman-dan-proft-steps-down.html" target="_blank">pays really well</a>. But back to Betty...I really hope she comes back to Cicero and takes over. Because when she reigned supreme,‚  the news was so fun. Wasn't it? So someone give her a job where she has to talk to the press every day. Ray, maybe Betty can assist? <strong><!--break--> </strong> <strong>C story:</strong> Using basic math, wouldn't<strong> </strong><a href="http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/02/50-foot-gold-coast-wall-becomes-taggers-canvas.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChicagoBreakingNews+(Chicago+Breaking+News)" target="_blank">graffiti on a million-dollar home's wall make the graffiti more valuable</a>? <strong> </strong> <strong>Weather: </strong>I had no idea it snowed last night.<strong> </strong> <strong>Sports:</strong> We are deciding who the best <a href="/jkaufmann/2010/02/poll-who-was-the-best-non-hall-of-fame-chicago-sports-star/15097" target="_blank">non-hall of fame athletes are from Chicago history</a>. Our first battle was between Steve Kerr and Derrek Lee. Kerr won by a slight margin. Today? He faces Eddie Belfour. Boom, this is gonna be fun! Vote up your fave and show your work (comment on why). <strong>Kicker: </strong>If you are having children and you want to paint their room, why not just paint a <a href="http://gamedrunk.com/2010/02/mario-mural-in-my-kids-room/" target="_blank">mural of Super Mario 3</a>? <strong> </strong></p> Tue, 16 Feb 2010 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/calling-all-hairspray-salespeople-bettys-back