WBEZ | John Garrido http://www.wbez.org/tags/john-garrido Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois' high court: More defamation suits can go forward http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-more-defamation-suits-can-go-forward-95698 <p><p>A ruling issued Friday morning by the Illinois Supreme Court means more defamation lawsuits involving public figures can go forward. The decision could help a former candidate for Chicago alderman who sued his opponent over negative advertising.</p><p><strong>RULING: </strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-January/2012-01-20/sandholm.pdf"><em>Sandholm v. Kuecker et al.</em></a></p><p>Illinois courts have interpreted the 2007 <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2937&amp;ChapterID=56">Citizen Participation Act</a> to apply to any statement aimed at getting the government to do what you want. If that was your true goal, you could not be sued for defamation.</p><p>But on Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court reined in the lower courts. The justices unanimously found that lawmakers were trying to prevent "only meritless, retaliatory" suits aimed at stopping people from speaking out. If a plaintiff who feels they've been defamed is "genuinely seeking relief for damages," the court said the suit can proceed.</p><p>The justices said that was true in the case at hand, in which a Dixon high school basketball coach, Steve Sandholm, sued members of his community who claimed he abused his players.</p><p>The decision could also help <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/former-candidate-chicago-alderman-stands-lose-far-more-election-95561">John Garrido</a>, who ran for Chicago alderman and later sued labor unions and his opponent over campaign ads he alleges were lies. That case was thrown out using the Citizen Participation Act, leaving Garrido on the hook for the defendants' many thousands in legal fees. The court's ruling Friday essentially writes Garrido's appeal for him.</p><p>Garrido said Friday he was "definitely pleased with this decision" by the Supreme Court.</p><p>A spokesperson for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who sponsored the 2007 legislation, said the court's interpretation of the legislature's intent was correct.</p><p>"The Senate President wants to encourage civic engagement by protecting the rights of people to voice their concerns with public policies and actions," Rikeesha Phelon said in an email. "Those protections were not designed to...provide safe harbor for those who promote mistruths and lies. For that reason, [Cullerton] believes that the court made the right decision."</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, however, is unlikely to be pleased by the ruling, as it was one of several groups who filed briefs in support of the Sandholm defendants. Asked for comment on the court's ruling, ACLU spokesman Edward Yohnka said the staff was still "reading and digesting the opinion."</p><p>"It is complicated and complicates the application of the CPA in Illinois," Yohnka wrote in an email.</p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 19:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-more-defamation-suits-can-go-forward-95698 Former candidate for Chicago alderman stands to lose far more than an election http://www.wbez.org/story/former-candidate-chicago-alderman-stands-lose-far-more-election-95561 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-13/photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>This much you already know: Political campaigns can be costly. And that's especially true for one candidate who ran for Chicago alderman last year.</p><p>John Garrido lost after getting knocked around by negative ads. He sued for defamation, and the outcome could end up costing him - personally - more than $150,000.</p><p>Garrido is a Chicago police lieutenant, a part-time attorney and - in recent years - an aspiring politician. Last year, he ran for alderman in the 45th Ward on the city's far Northwest Side.</p><p>"I don't want to say that I thought it was mine," Garrido said in an interview last week at his law office. "But we definitely were doing very well and I thought we were going to be victorious."</p><p>Garrido's confidence wasn't misplaced. He was well known and ran a high-energy - though relatively-low cost - campaign.</p><p>But in the end, "Well, it was a nail-biter. Came right down to the wire," he said.</p><p>Thirty votes separated Garrido from his opponent.</p><p>"Absolutely crazy," he said. "I believe one paper wrote that it was the second-closest race in the history of Chicago."</p><p>If that's so (and a spokesman from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners doubts it), Garrido was on the losing side of history.</p><p>"Trust me, the second guessing. You know, when I stopped for dinner on a certain day, I could have walked an extra two blocks," Garrido said. "I mean, yeah, of course you definitely second guess yourself all the way 'til the end there."</p><p>The winner was John Arena, who owns a graphic design business. Arena had won the bulk of labor union support in the race. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) of Illinois, alone spent several hundred thousand dollars on this single ward race.</p><p>Garrido was hit over and over again with negative ads - many tying him to the unpopular deal to lease Chicago's parking meters to a private company, a deal that's led to increasingly higher parking rates.</p><p>"When Chicago privatized parking meters, our neighborhoods and working families got hurt," boomed the voice-over on a SEIU TV ad. "Garrido even took cash from a corporation making millions from the parking meter deal."</p><p>A sentence flashed on the screen: "Garrido took cash from parking meter company."</p><p>"Absolutely false. Absolutely false," Garrido said of the charge.</p><p>Well, maybe not "absolutely" false, but not quite as advertised. It turns out Garrido took money from the owner of a security firm working with the parking meter company. The claim was repeated in mailings to 45th Ward residents, along with other negative charges.</p><p>Just 10 days after he lost the election, Garrido filed a defamation lawsuit.</p><p>"My reputation was damaged," he said. "My career's been based on honesty and integrity. And they spent a lot of money to damage that. And unfortunately, there are very few ways that you can get recourse."</p><p>He sued SEIU Illinois and other unions that sent out negative ads: Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1, as well as Comcast, which aired the TV ad, and the winning candidate, John Arena, whose campaign also made the parking meter claim.</p><p>Arena said in an interview last week that Garrido should've known better than to accept a donation at all connected to the parking meter deal.</p><p>"You don't want to be 10 feet from that. You don't want to be 100 miles from that deal if you're in a campaign running," Arena said. "If that were me, I would have returned the money. I wouldn't want to have anything to do with that deal in the context of that race."</p><p>Besides, Arena said, hits happen in the course of an election; if you can't take them, don't play the game.</p><p>"It comes off...as sour grapes that you ran a campaign," Arena said. "You win or you lose, and you have to decide whether you're going to come back and run again the next time or file a lawsuit that wastes a lot of people's time."</p><p>Representatives for SEIU Illinois, Chicago Federation of Labor, UNITE HERE Local 1 and Comcast all declined to comment for this story, each noting the pending lawsuit.</p><p>So far, it hasn't mattered if the parking meter claim was true, somewhat true or not at all true. The defamation suit was dismissed before its merits were ever discussed, because of an Illinois law passed in 2007: the Citizen Participation Act.</p><p>Supporters of the legislation wanted to discourage lawsuits that could have a "chill[ing]" effect on people wanting to speak out in public forums. Basically, the law said you can't be sued for what you say, if you're legitimately trying to influence "government action."</p><p>"So that people can't use the courts as a means of litigating their political fights," explains Shari Albrecht, an attorney at the Chicago law firm Mandell Menkes. She's represented a handful of defendants in lawsuits where the Citizen Participation Act is invoked.</p><p>"The defendant doesn't have to go to the effort of trying to prove, for instance, that their statements were true, or that for whatever other reason it wasn't defamation. All the defendant has to do is show that the Citizen Participation Act applies," Albrecht said.</p><p>And then the lawsuit is dismissed. Plus, the plaintiff - the person claiming to be defamed - has to pay a chunk of the other side's legal bills.</p><p>And that's what John Garrido is looking at, according to court documents: $13,164 for lawyers hired by the Chicago Federation of Labor, $34,149 for SEIU Illinois, $34,222 for UNITE HERE Local 1, $62,407 for Comcast and $17,097 for John Arena. All told, those defendants say Garrido owes them roughly $161,000.</p><p>In his order last week re-affirming his dismissal of the case, Cook County Judge Michael Panter wrote that courts shouldn't "police the veracity of our political candidates' campaign allegations."</p><p>Garrido plans to appeal.</p><p>"The statute that they're using to try to dismiss the case, in my opinion, wasn't created to protect speech that's untrue. You don't just get, you know, free pass to lie just because it's during a campaign," Garrido said.</p><p>"Everybody's got the opinion that, well - you know - politics, you've got to have a thick skin. It's rough and tumble. This is Chicago politics. And that's fine and I'm good with that," Garrido said. "Nobody's got a thicker skin than a Chicago police officer. But there has to be a line somewhere that you cannot cross."</p><p>And Judge Panter at least appears somewhat sympathetic to Garrido's argument, calling attention in his ruling a "fundamental irony" with the Citizen Protection Act.</p><p>The law, he wrote, "closes the door on one very important right to participate in government, applying to the courts for relief from injury...in the name of protecting another right to participate in government, like here, running for political office."</p><p>Panter pleaded for "clarification," and he could get it soon. In September, the Illinois Supreme Court heard a case questioning whether such a broad protection of public statements in constitutional. The justices have not yet ruled.</p></p> Tue, 17 Jan 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/former-candidate-chicago-alderman-stands-lose-far-more-election-95561 Only Republican alderman laments GOP's absence from new council http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-doherty/only-republican-alderman-laments-gops-absence-new-council-85163 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/848_20100802b_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>There will be no Republicans on the newly elected Chicago City Council, and a retiring GOP alderman is putting some blame for that on party officials.</p><p>Alderman is a non-partisan job, but party labels still matter. Ald. Brian Doherty, a 41st Ward Republican, hand-picked his aide, Maurita Gavin, to replace him, though she lost the election. With no Republicans winning council seats, Doherty said the party loses a bully pulpit.<br> <br> "They didn't offer any assistance to us at all, I think shows very poorly on the Republican leadership in the state level, county level," Doherty said Wednesday.<br> <br> Doherty said party officials did not return phone calls during the campaign, but the heads of the state and county parties said Wednesday they never got those calls.</p><p>"We think it's important that we do field candidates in these city council races, and we need more Republican representation on the city council," said Pat Brady, chair of the Illinois GOP. "And that's what we're working towards."<br> <br> As for resources, Brady said there is only so much money to go around.</p><p>"Certainly I would like to give our candidates as much support as possible, and we do the best job we can and we've done a lot in the last couple years. But, you know, we don't have everything we need sometimes," Brady said, adding that the party offers its database of voter information to all Republican candidates.<br> <br> The head of the Cook County Republican Party, Lee Roupas, noted that his group did get involved in a different aldermanic race. Roupas said it donated $500 and recruited volunteers for 45th Ward candidate John Garrido. Garrido ended up losing by fewer than 30 votes.</p><p>Another Republican group, the Chicago Republican Party, claimed it did a lot of work for both the Garrido and Gavin campaigns.</p><p>"A lot of time and effort went into this," said Peter Bella, the Chicago GOP's executive director.</p><p>Calling it "disingenuous" for Doherty to complain about lack of party involvement, Bella claimed the alderman has "never really done anything for the Republican Party, except - you know - get elected."</p><p>Doherty has been the city council's only Republican since he was first elected, in 1991. He lost a bid for the Illinois Senate last fall.</p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 22:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-doherty/only-republican-alderman-laments-gops-absence-new-council-85163 Arena claims victory, while Garrido holds out in Chicago's 45th Ward runoff http://www.wbez.org/story/45th-ward/arena-claims-victory-while-garrido-holds-out-chicagos-45th-ward-runoff-84799 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/arena garrido 3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Margins of victory were very small in a handful of Chicago city council runoffs, and the results could change slightly as late-arriving absentee ballots trickle in.<br> <br> Chicago's 45th Ward is on the Northwest Side, where just 29 votes separate the candidates. Graphic artist John Arena leads, and last night talked like he was already in the council.<br> <br> "We need to move forward now," Arena said. "I'm going to build, you know, a coalition - whether it's folks who ran or residents that want to get involved and have a voice in how their ward is run and how the city is run."<br> <br> But Arena's opponent, police office and lawyer John Garrido, is not conceding.<br> <br> "Disappointed right now, but encouraged that everybody worked so hard, and it's close," Garrido said in a phone interview Tuesday night. "You know, we're going to wait for the final count."<br> <br> This contest saw a recent infusion of cash, with the Service Employees International Union spending more than $200,000 dollars for Arena.<br> <br> His 29-vote margin of victory is still unofficial. According to board of elections, as many as 73 absentee ballots for the race may still arrive.</p><p>The 45th Ward is an open seat this year. Incumbent Ald. Pat Levar announced last fall that he was retiring at the end of the term.</p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 05:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/45th-ward/arena-claims-victory-while-garrido-holds-out-chicagos-45th-ward-runoff-84799 Chicago unlikely to have any proud Republicans in next City Council http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-doherty/chicago-unlikely-have-any-proud-republicans-next-city-council-84057 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-21/arena garrido 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Republican in the Chicago City Council is a rare breed. For the past twenty years, there's been exactly one. <br /><br />Ald. Brian Doherty is retiring, but in at least two runoff races taking place in April, Republicans are in contention. Technically, the office of alderman is non-partisan. But that doesn't mean the campaigning is.</p><p>In Chicago's far northwest corner, there are a cluster of neighborhoods - quiet ones - if you can ignore the jet noise from nearby O'Hare. This is the 41st Ward, and since 1991, Brian Doherty has represented it on the city council. As he is now, Dougherty then was the only Republican alderman, and that led to some &quot;freshman hazing.&quot;<br /><br />DOHERTY: They were trashing the president - the first George Bush. It was like my second or third meeting. <br /><br />Doherty says then-Ald. Luis Gutierrez turned to him and said, 'You know, Doherty, they're calling you out.'<br /><br />DOHERTY: And so I stood up and...I said, 'As the minority leader of the Republican Party on this floor,' which brought them all to laughter, you know. I said, 'We should stick to what's in front of us and, you know, do our city business and quit worrying about the national business.'<br /><br />But Doherty says party label doesn't mean a thing in this job.<br /><br />DOHERTY: Being an alderman is nonpartisan, because there's really not a Republican or Democrat way to pick up the garbage.<br /><br />That said, Doherty's conservative ideology does at times enter the equation - on issues like domestic partners, abortion, reparations.<br /><br />Now he is leaving the city council, having lost a bid for the state Senate last fall, and he's backing a longtime staff member to replace him.<br /><br />DOUGHERTY: I've known Maurita Gavin since grade school, okay. I actually went to her senior prom with her.<br /><br />Dougherty says he is a &quot;card-carrying Republican,&quot; but Maurita Gavin is more of an independent, though for the past decade or so she's only voted in Republican primaries.<br /><br />Not that that's unusual in the 41st, the most Republican ward in the city. Though even there, the GOP is in the minority. In the primary election last year, only about a quarter of all ballots cast were Republican.<br /><br />Gavin obviousy recognizes that math. Here she is at a forum in the Edgebrook neighborhood.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="263" width="350" title="Maurita Gavin (left) and Mary O'Connor are running against each other in the 41st Ward." class="caption" align="middle" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-21/gavin%20o%27connor.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">GAVIN: I vote for the best candidate regardless of political affiliation, just like I will support the best policies for this ward without regard to political issues.<br /><br />Gavin says that differentiates her from her opponent, caterer Mary O'Connor, who is also Democratic ward committeeman, which Gavin claims makes O'Connor beholden to Democratic leaders. Mary O'Connor shrugs that off.<br /><br />O'CONNOR: Because I'm the Democratic ward committeeman, to feel that I have all these connections is not true. I have not even asked for money from the Democratic organization. I've been running independently.<br /><br />So in that ward - the 41st - it's the Republican going after the Democrat for her party roots.</p><p style="text-align: left;">It's exactly the opposite in the neighboring 45th. One of the candidates there is police officer John Garrido, who has cast ballots at different times in Republican and Democratic primaries. Though last year he ran for Cook County Board President as a Republican.<br /><br />His opponent in the aldermanic race this year, small-business owner John Arena, has labeled Garrido an opportunist.<br /><br />ARENA: When you run as a Republican for Cook County Board president, it's convenient to be a Republican. When you're running for a nonpartisan race, it's convenient to be an independent.<br /><br />Arena is a Democrat, but is not getting any support from the ward's Democratic establishment. He is getting help from a union that most often sides with Democrats.<br /><br />The Service Employees International Union, SEIU, paid for a mailing that shows photos of Republicans like John McCain, George Bush and Sarah Palin. And right in the middle: John Garrido. It says, &quot;The last thing we need is a partisan Republican Alderman.&quot; SEIU declined to be interviewed on tape for this story.<br /><br />Here is Garrido's response to the ad:<br /><br />GARRIDO: It's very divisive. And I know he always talks about this whole consistency thing. You know what? When you vote, is there supposed some kind of indoctrinated consistency in how you vote? For me, it's about the candidate.<br /><br />Garrido is getting support from some GOP organizations. He says the chair of the Cook County Republican Party donated $500. And the Chicago Young Republicans are volunteering for Garrido because they say he's a &quot;great fit for the ward.&quot; The group - no doubt respecting Garrido's own claims of independence - insists its support has nothing do with him being a Republican.<br /><br />And so, next month Chicago may very well elect two aldermen with GOP bona-fides. Neither though are acting like they'd embrace the party like retiring Ald. Brian Doherty does. Which means the new Chicago city council likely will be without a &quot;card carrying Republican&quot; alderman.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Most Republican Wards in Chicago*</strong></p><p><style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;} </style></p><table class="tableizer-table"> <tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>Ward</th><th>Percentage Democratic voters</th><th>Percentage Republican voters</th></tr> <tr><td>41</td><td>74.3%</td><td>25.7%</td></tr> <tr><td>42</td><td>76.3%</td><td>23.7%</td></tr> <tr><td>43</td><td>78.8%</td><td>21.2%</td></tr> <tr><td>38</td><td>81.1%</td><td>18.9%</td></tr> <tr><td>45</td><td>81.4%</td><td>18.6%</td></tr></tbody></table> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Most Democratic Wards in Chicago*</strong></p><p><style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;} </style></p><table class="tableizer-table"> <tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>Ward</th><th>Percentage Democratic voters</th><th>Percentage Republican voters</th></tr> <tr><td>34</td><td>99.3%</td><td>0.7%</td></tr> <tr><td>8</td><td>99.2%</td><td>0.8%</td></tr> <tr><td>6</td><td>99.2%</td><td>0.8%</td></tr> <tr><td>17</td><td>99.2%</td><td>0.8%</td></tr> <tr><td>21</td><td>99.1%</td><td>0.9%</td></tr></tbody></table> <p style="text-align: left;">* based off ballots pulled during February 2010 primary election</p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>Music Button: The Tiki Tones, &quot;Rusty Nail&quot;, from the CD Mai Tai Records Music Sampler, (Mai Tai)</em></p></p> Tue, 22 Mar 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/brian-doherty/chicago-unlikely-have-any-proud-republicans-next-city-council-84057 Some aldermanic candidates say they'd happily take Emanuel's leftover cash http://www.wbez.org/story/eugene-sawyer/some-aldermanic-candidates-say-theyd-happily-take-emanuels-leftover-cash <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Rahm on campaign night - Getty John Gress.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some candidates for Chicago alderman headed to runoff races said Thursday they will seek help from the mayor-elect. Rahm Emanuel said he plans to provide political resources and ideas to candidates who will be partners in &quot;reform and change.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel had more than $13 million at his disposal during the campaign. There are &quot;resources&quot; left over, he said, but claimed he does not know the dollar amount.<br /><br />He is likely to get lots of requests for help.<br /><br />Ald. Sharon Dixon of the 24th Ward faces a runoff after getting just 19-percent in a crowded field on Tuesday. She said she will talk to Emanuel &quot;as soon as [she] possibly can.&quot;</p><p>They will talk about issues, Dixon said, as well as money.</p><p>&quot;We will definitely talk about campaign resources. Yes,&quot; she said. &quot;That will be part of the conversation. I am in a runoff.&quot;<br /><br />An endorsement may also help; Emanuel won 60-percent of the vote in Dixon's ward. She faces former Ald. Michael Chandler in the runoff.<br /><br />On the Northwest Side in the 45th Ward, small business owner John Arena is one of the candidates headed to a runoff. The seat is currently held by retiring Ald. Pat Levar.</p><p>Arena said he wants to talk to Emanuel, who got more than half the vote in the ward. But Arena noted he will not accept help if there are strings attached.<br /><br />&quot;If it's expected that...I can't maintain my independence, then no, I wouldn't accept it,&quot; Arena said.</p><p>Arena's opponent, police officer John Garrido, said he's hopeful Emanuel stays out of the race. But Garrido said if Emanuel chooses to endorse a candidate in the ward, he hopes it's him.</p><p>In the South Side's 6th Ward, Emanuel won 59-percent of the vote. The challenger there, Roderick Sawyer,said his campaign could use Emanuel's money if the mayor-elect chooses to work with him.</p><p>&quot;But we don't want to put all of our eggs in one basket and say that's the end-all and be-all of this campaign,&quot; said Sawyer, who is a lawyer and the son of a former mayor, Eugene Sawyer. &quot;That's just one step. You know, there's other money out there.&quot;</p><p>Sawyer is up against incumbent Ald. Freddrenna Lyle. Lyle endorsed former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun in the mayor's race, but said she's talked to Emanuel a few times about issues.<br /><br />Asked if she'd accept campaign money from the mayor-elect, Lyle said she is &quot;not ruling out any support unless the devil comes in with a check.&quot;<br /><br />And Lyle said she does not think Emanuel is the devil.</p><p>Fourteen city council runoff elections will be held on April 5th.</p></p> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 23:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/eugene-sawyer/some-aldermanic-candidates-say-theyd-happily-take-emanuels-leftover-cash