Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Personal Aside: Tony Peraicas Stunning Command of Cook Countys Governmental Affairs Warrants Election.
I heard Tony Peraicas presentation at the City Club of Chicago earlier this week. Inured to campaign speeches since I first started covering them in 1953, fifty-five years ago, I thought Id load up on good Italian food and meet some old friends while Tony would recite a list of campaign truisms.
But what I heard was jaw-droppingly good. After years of watching this county shrug off misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and incompetence with widespread waste of taxpayers money, for the first time in many years I heard one who knows the ins and outs of county government, is articulate, forthright and energetic. He is far better than the most recent Republicans to run for states attorney. Ben Adamowski was determined to get even with Richard J. Daley for a feud they had when both were in the legislature. In fact if there was any vote-fraud of consequence in the 1960 election it was done against Adamowski, to bump him from his goal of investigating the Old Man.
Bernard Carey was a fine man but so co-opted by the Independent Voters of Illinois, the left-wing affiliate of Americans for Democratic Action, that coupled with his own fatal lack of energy was not an effective lawyer for the people. Jack OMalley was a clone of Big Jimbo Thompson, a personally attractive candidate but one far-far in the Thompson mold of accommodation rather than a chief prosecutor in a county heavily dominated by corruption. Carey was defeated by Richard M. Daley and OMalley who was flirting with governor was knocked off by Dick Devine.
I am not just impressed with Tony Peraicas outstanding grasp of the issues but his resumehis ability to start from behind scratch to rise to eminence in the private legal profession and in public policy. Starting when he came here from Croatia at age 13 without knowing a word of English, working at an Italian deli in Bridgeport where seemingly he was in danger of learning Italian first before English.
Continuing through 16 hour days working at a bank, going to law school at night. Working as a lawyer, starting his own law firm, running for Cook county commissioner, running a close one in realistic terms given the utter bankruptcy and failure of the Cook county Republican party for president of the county board. And now with the opportunity to become the countys top legal officer.
No, Im not indentured to him or obligated in any way and I have criticized Tony in the past as you remember. But all the same he has the raw guts and brainpower to bring a resurgence of tough accountable government to this countyand I just thought I would add these words to the record.