Pahlitics in SIS-er-row
Cicero, Illinois, located just west of Chicago, right by I-290, is a generally well-swept town of about 85,000 with a storied history. Once known as the "Italian suburb", Once a center of Al Capone's activities, Cicero to this day has rumored ties to "The Outfit". In recent years the demographics have changed somewhat, with second-generation Mexicans replacing Italians. But the nature of Cicero politics remains somewhat murky -- and this year there's been plenty to ponder.
In November, Democrat Michelle Chavez was elected State Representative, 53-47%, over incumbent Republican Rep. Frank Aguilar. And yet, Chavez didn't print flyers, didn't put up signs, never opened a campaign office and didn't raise a dime for her campaign. In fact, Chavez didn't campaign at all.
Yesterday, Cicero Town President Ramiro Gonzalez proudly appointed a new town assessor -- his 23 year-old nephew Jose Alanis. According to the Tribune, "Jose Alanis will be paid $78,270 annually, though that sum jumps to $122,231 after the April 5 general election." Alanis' dad is a Code Enforcement Department inspector making $52,000 a year. His sister-in-law makes $78,000 as his administrative assistant. Another relative is an auxiliary police officer who makes $79,000, and a nephew is a technical support worker. His brother Joel is on the Police and Fire Commission, getting $12,000 a year. Not including President Gonzalez' salary, the family gets $421,501 a year from Cicero jobs.
One might think there's hope for poor Cicero, since four people have gathered petitions to run for Town President in 2005. One candidate just moved into town a year ago, and another ran for the job and lost four years ago to Betty Loren-Maltese -- who is now serving time in jail on bribery and corruption charges (current-President Gonzalez was appointed by Loren-Maltese to succeed her). But the town counsel says the challengers don't have enough signatures. That's OK, one of the challengers says. "They'll throw the kitchen sink at you if they can."
This is the part where Chicagoist would normally editorialize. But just writing this piece was probably risk enough. Please, no horse heads in our bed. Please.