Monday, September 21, 2009

Personal Aside: Sun-Times’ Pallasch Scores Big with Story of How Dems Slate Judges…Adam, Mullins Do Well in Hot Radio Slugfest.


Pallasch Top-Notch.

The Sun-Times’ high-paid columnists may not be worth their salt but once again Sunday proved its news staff keeps the paper afloat. Political columnist Abdon Pallasch wrote a brilliant inside piece on how Dems slate judges. For decades commentators have referred to the process but Pallasch…whom I’ve known since he was a tadpole intern for the Better Government Association…has done what no reporter has before. He actually got a seat at the table when judges were being slated by Eddie Burke. Pallasch’s story could easily be made into a musical not unlike “Fiorello” with Burke playing himself. After all who could find a better actor with white hair so luminous that if you turned off the lights it would glow?

Then, to make the story even richer, after the slating group went into executive session but Pallasch had an inside operative give him the details.

The story, “Inside the Beast: How Cook County Judges are Elected” is not melodramatic nor self-righteously judgmental but straight reporting. As such it is not just outstanding: it is the best story of such a process since I have been keeping score of Cook county Democratic politics. Pallasch is a super-star and with Sunday’s story begins to approach the John Kass class. Just simply marvelous journalism.

Andrzejewski & Mullins.

I call my WLS radio show “Political Shootout” for a reason. It’s not a meandering, everybody-agree-with-everyone-else variant of the WTTW’s deadly boring “Chicago Week in Review” but is immediate and spontaneous with two participants who feel strongly about issues and tactics. Last night they were Adam Andrzejewski, once a long-shot but distinctly fast-rising populist conservative Republican contender for his party’s gubernatorial nomination…and Eugene Mullins, spokesman for Todd Stroger, brilliant, equipped with street smarts as a former police sergeant and also intellectually with a handful of graduate degrees. I worked up a sweat keeping them apart during the broadcast and the public learned much about state and Cook county politics from them.

My conclusions: Andrzejewski is definitely not a mere flash-in-the-pan. I tossed a few fast balls at him…asking how he could justify balancing a state budget that is an estimated $10 billion in the red by merely eliminating the old canards of waste, fraud and abuse. He ticked off a number of heavy programs he would eliminate. If he was limited at all, it was because Republicans in the legislature have been shut out of the process where they can verify the myriad of money stashes that Adam maintains can translate his blueprint into reality. We’ll see if he’s right but he’s a major contender: young, exceedingly articulate and endowed with a fighting nature.

Gene Mullins has the tougher job since the media are all over his boss but with 55 years in this business I have not seen his forensic equal since I watched a young, bristling Hubert Humphrey make an electric bid for mayor of Minneapolis…which started him down the path to U. S. Senate, vice president and presidential candidate.

It is intriguing to note that the flurry of Democratic challengers to Todd Stroger…three of them—Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Congressman Danny Davis—may combine to return the powerful Cook county board presidency to the Irish Daley-ites by splitting the black vote and allowing Terrence O’Brien, president of the Water Reclamation Board, to get in. That’s no great concern of mine as a Republican but methinks I see a strategy in the Dem slating committee under the thumb…as everything else is…of Mayor Daley tossing the prize to the winds where—guess what?—another Irishman can triumph. And don’t think that isn’t the plan. With his ever-higher taxes and the outlook for a sharply higher property tax to pay for the Olympics, blacks and the poor will have to move out to blue-collar suburbs…leaving the Daleys and the Irish in control as fifty years ago.

Which means we’ll have a reprise of…what? Devil in the White City.

Of course the black challengers to Stroger are far from Class A themselves. Preckwinkle has Rezko ties…Brown? When she ran against Daley for mayor she had everything—superb credentials: an MBA and law degree—but was unable to master the issues which she’d get from merely reading the paper. Result: you figured she was a “ringer.”

And of course Danny Davis whose specialty is a Hammond organ voice with which he can read the Chicago telephone directory…running his tones up and down (me-me-me-me) from whisper to stentorian blast. His basso profundo is so resonant that you forget that no substance comes out. The other day he said we must have universal health insurance regardless of the cost—no matter if it’s even double what Obama’s people have based their price tag. “Damn the Cost Davis” is what he goes by. Nothing would so improve Ways and Means as his leaving it but if people are worried about taxes now, with “Damn the Cost Davis” as board president it’d be full steam ahead.

His rich baritone commands attention but when you hear it for a time you understand it is an instrument unconnected to thought…Davis occasionally giving the impression that he would like to shut it off but he just can’t. It just rolls on…and on…and on like Old Man River (which he would do a great job on)…either that or playing the role of De Lawd in a revival of Mark Connelly’s 1937 “Green Pastures.”

1 comment:

  1. Abdon Pallasch comes from a family of lawyers and he has done another fine job of publicizing the methods used by the Democrats to slate judicial candidates. The process is becoming more eclecticly bizarre by the year. The judicial conventions held under the former Illinois Constitution of 1870 seem preferable by comparison