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The [Tuesday] Papers

"Retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th) received sex acts, Viagra, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey and a steady stream of campaign contributions in exchange for shepherding official City Council actions, according to allegations in a federal court affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times," the paper reports.

"The allegations are contained in an explosive search warrant application that helps explain why Solis, the powerful chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee, agreed to spend more than two years cooperating in a federal investigation during which he is known to have secretly recorded at least a dozen conversations with Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), the former chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee."

*

"During a phone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month, Solis, 69, refused to address the salacious allegations against him.

"I have no idea what you're talking about,' said Solis, who announced abruptly in late November that he was retiring from politics."

"Solis had publicly denied cooperating with the government or wearing a wire."

Again, because this is not the first time the Sun-Times has written this: When and where did he publicly deny he was wearing a wire? I just want to know. Clearly, word of what Solis was doing - and why - were leaking out. But that's just a side note.

*

"The affidavit, sworn out by FBI special agent Steven Noldin, portrays Solis as deeply in debt and routinely on the prowl for sex, Viagra, campaign contributions and other favors."

Solis makes $117,833 a year as the city council's zoning committee chair.

Then again, Viagra apparently costs $40 a pill now, so . . .

*

"[The affidavit] accuses veteran political operative and government consultant Roberto Caldero of assisting Solis in those pursuits, including soliciting campaign donations from the Cacciatore family, which, among other businesses, owns Elgin Sweeping Services, a major street-sweeping company.

"At the time, Caldero was representing Elgin Sweeping in its efforts to obtain relief from a change in the city's water billing practices that investigators indicated could have cost the company more than $1 million. Elgin Sweeping had a city contract to provide street sweeping services and at the time relied on filling its equipment at city fire hydrants . . .

"In an interview, Caldero acknowledged providing Solis with Viagra and arranging massage parlor visits, but said he did so out of friendship, not to curry favor for a client."

If only we all had such good friends.

*

"In addition, Solis was recorded soliciting campaign donations from attorney and political powerbroker Victor Reyes, who in turn allegedly complained that Solis never steers him any business, according to the affidavit.

"Reyes told Solis that several other aldermen had all steered clients to him, according to the affidavit.

"You haven't sent me any. I don't know why," Reyes told Solis.

Solis then promised he would make it up to Reyes by sending him "more business than what, what you raise," according to the affidavit.

"Reyes is the former chief of the now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO), which was at the center of a city hiring scandal when Richard M. Daley was mayor."

Victor Reyes is a particularly special Chicago creature whose consulting firm advertises its ability to "navigate" the "dynamic intersection between business and government" and "give you access to key decision makers."

(His business partner, Amy Kurson, is married to author and former Chicago magazine writer Bob Kurson, whose brother Ken did Jared Kushner's dirty work as editor of the New York Observer and went to work for Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump. What a family! Assignment Desk, activate!)

For some reason, some corners of the media turn to the disgraced Reyes for (ironic) political analysis.

Now, let's connect some dots via the Beachwood vault.

From November 2006:

* Harold Washington fired Donald Tomczak.

* Richard M. Daley re-hired Tomczak.

* Tomczak was just sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the Hired Truck Scandal.

* Tomczak testified in the corruption trial of the mayor's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, who was found guilty along with three other Daley aides of a massively corrupt City Hall hiring system.

* Tomczak said he took his orders from Daley advisers Tim Degnan, Victor Reyes, and John Doerrer.

Ok. Let's keep going - and bear in mind, this is from the time when John Kass was invaluable covering City Hall and had not yet turned (or revealed himself to be) full Trumper . . . also from November 2006:

John Kass asks Rahm Emanuel one of the questions Phil Ponce didn't last night in his creampuff interview on Chicago Tonight:

The setup: "[I]f City Hall had not sent Don Tomczak, the corrupt city hall water department boss, to Emanuel's congressional campaign in 2002 - and Tomczak's political army of hundreds of city workers who stumped the precincts with the promise of overtime - then Emanuel wouldn't have narrowly defeated a local grass-roots Democrat.

The question: "And all I wanted to know from political operative Emanuel was this: Who sent Tomczak's army?

"Who?"

"Yes, was it Mayor Daley? Or Billy Daley, or [mayoral brain] Tim Degnan? Who?"

"I don't know."

"Of course you do."

"That's your question?'"

And a damn good one - the sort of question, as Kass notes, the rest of the media doesn't bother to ask. Rahm didn't answer. But he knows. Of course he knows. He's Rahm Emanuel.

Remember: Beneath the sauce, all the strands of the spaghetti are tied together.

*

Also, from No Games Chicago via the Beachwood back then:

"You can download the testimony of former Water Department Deputy Commissioner Donald Tomczak, who is currently serving his sentence in federal prison.

"This testimony shows how Chicago Democrats rigged the hiring and promotion of city employees in order to unduly influence elections.

"To read how Tomczak's unlawful patronage workers campaigned to elect Rahm Emanuel to the U.S. Congress, see the last page, 2,444.

To read how Tomczak's unlawful patronage workers campaigned for former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley's candidate Al Gore when Bill Daley was Gore's campaign chairman, see page 2,443.

"The federal court testimony also implicates Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod because Axelrod was Rahm Emanuel's campaign manager and Axelrod was also an adviser to Daley for multiple campaigns in which Axelrod and Daley used patronage workers to rig the elections in their favor."

*

But this is (ostensibly) about Solis.

"Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has told associates he hopes to someday be hailed as a hero for any part he played in bringing down Chicago's power structure and helping unravel one of the biggest political scandals this city has seen in decades," the Sun-Times reports.

I don't think history will see him that way, but if that's what he needs to believe to cope with what he's done, so be it.

*

"The feds had him under surveillance when, on three occasions, they watched him come and go from massage parlors. They also tapped his cellphone and listened to conversations arranging those trysts and describing his affinity for Asian women.

"The massage parlor visits were allegedly paid for by a political operative seeking city favors, the federal document says.

"The rest of the allegations, Solis firmly believes he could have beaten if he had been charged, the source said."

As you go through this article, you'll see that it's pretty clear that the source is Solis's lawyer, whose claims are given a free pass.

*

Finally:

"The FBI secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan trying to get business for his private law firm from a developer brought to him by Ald. Danny Solis, who was weighing the developer's request to build a hotel in Chinatown, according to a federal court affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times," the paper also reports.

"The affidavit makes clear for the first time that the federal investigation that has snared powerful Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke extends beyond City Hall and into the Illinois statehouse, examining politicians' longstanding practice of merging personal and political business."

I don't know if it shows that. The feds have been at it with Solis for an awful long time. They might have enough to take down the whole stinkin' system, or they might have nothing else but this. Let's wait and see.

*

Susana Mendoza has finally discovered that Chicago's political culture is dirty. It's almost too much to bear.

Mendoza, of course, has a certain amount of political liability here because she's so tight with all the players. Her past relationship with the now-defunct HDO remains murky to me, but still. (She's long been accused of being an HDO-er, but has always forcefully denied it.)

One thing is clear, though, from a brief trip through the archives this morning: She has always stood with the Establishment wing of Latino politics fending off the reformist wing led, at times, by Chuy Garcia. I guess it's never too late to convert, though!

*

Bill Daley is the other candidate who ought not come out of this looking too good, because these are all his people too. And Rahm, who has successfully orchestrated a media victory tour that obscures the fact that he's being kicked out of office? Well . . .

*

Toni Preckwinkle may not have been allies with any of these jokers, but she did help Ed Burke's son get a job and she stood steadfastly by a crucial piece of the Burke-Madigan axis - Joe Berrios, even through his naked nepotism and as evidence piled up that the county's tax assessments were just about as racist and backwards as you could imagine.

Gery Chico shouldn't get away scot-free, either. First, Burke is his best friend. Second, his resume is filled with appointed positions from Richard M. Daley, who for so long sat atop the pyramid and for whose benefit brother Bill helped create HDO, placated Burke as finance committee chair and placed Solis into his zoning committee chairmanship.

(And let's not forget that Barack Obama endorsed Richard M. Daley and made Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley his first two chiefs of staff.)

In other words, the more of this that dribbles (or splurges) out, the worse it is for the Establishment/Machine candidates, because at least some measure of Chicago (though not necessarily a large one) is sick of it. That would be good news for Lori Lightfoot and Amara Enyia if they were anywhere near striking distance and more plausible mayors (though I'm not making an equivalence here as I think Lightfoot is leagues beyond Enyia). Then again, they both worked for Daley and Lightfoot worked for Rahm, too! You just never know in Chicago.

Now, Paul Vallas could benefit despite being a Daley guy because he seemed to have actually held real jobs back then that were not without controversy but, as far as I can remember, without political shenanigans, at least involving him personally. But he has other, yet unexplored liabilities, such as his chartering of the entire New Orleans public school district.

So maybe we'll just muddle along, because the likes of Bob Fioretti, Neal Sales-Griffin and John Kozlar are not going to save us.

*

Anyway, I found a couple pieces in the archives so far in doing some research that I found pretty interesting for additional historical context, so I'll just unload them now.

From Evan Osnos, now writing for The New Yorker, in the Tribune, March 2000:

"As Illinois Democrats prepare to choose nominees in Tuesday's primary, two legislative races have become battlegrounds for two factions of Chicago's Latino political leadership.

"On one side is a team of allies of Mayor Richard M. Daley, led by Ald. Ray Frias (12th) and state Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago). They are backing challenger Susana Mendoza in the 1st District and state Rep. Edgar Lopez in the 4th.

"Their rival is a coalition once headed by former state Sen. Jesus Garcia, who lost to Munoz in 1998. Led by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D- Ill.) and state Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago), its candidates are state Rep. Sonia Silva in the 1st and Cynthia Soto in the 4th."

Ha!

"Silva is running in support of a pending state bill that would provide free school meals, and a call to regulate the use of day laborers. But she also questions Mendoza's independence.

"'People want experienced, independent voices to speak up for them,' Silva said.

"Mendoza, a 27-year-old project coordinator in the city's Department of Planning and former volunteer press secretary for Frias, accuses Silva of being lax on crime and anti-development.

"'I stand on my own accomplishments," Mendoza said.

"Referring to her support from Daley and Frias, Mendoza added: 'I'm proud of the support I've received, but you haven't seen any signs that say Daley/Mendoza, or Frias/Mendoza.'"

Or, she would say today, Rahm/Mendoza.

Isn't it all so familiar?

*

And from the late Steve Neal in the Sun-Times in 1998:

"His influence is on the rise.

"In the wake of the March 17 primary, Ald. Daniel S. Solis (25th) has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Chicago's growing Latino community. Solis, 48, who was executive director of the United Neighborhood Organization before Mayor Daley named him to the City Council in 1996, is viewed as a potential contender for higher office.

"Relatively unknown candidates backed by Solis ousted state Sen. Miguel del Valle as state Democratic central committeeman for the 4th Congressional District and derailed state Sen. Jesus Garcia's bid for renomination. (Del Valle won renomination for the Senate.) The defeats of the durable Hispanic independents were among the biggest surprise of the '98 primary."

Of course, we all know where Garcia is today. Del Valle went on to become Daley's city clerk - preceding Mendoza - and then ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011 against a field that included Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico.

*

"Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley, the 11th Ward's Democratic committeeman with whom Solis is aligned, carried his Southwest Side ward for Moreno by more than 4,000 votes. Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) . . . also is allied with Solis . . .

"Solis also needed the help of John Daley and Burke to beat Garcia. Munoz edged Garcia by 860 votes. Solis carried his own ward for Munoz by 61 votes. Daley delivered the 11th Ward by 643 votes and Burke's plurality in the 14th was 494 votes. Garcia's 627-vote margin in his 22nd Ward wasn't enough to overcome the Daley-Burke-Solis coalition.

"In two other contests, Solis also demonstrated his clout. State Rep. Edward Acevedo, a Solis ally, won a tough three-way primary with a majority. State Rep. Sonia Silva, Garcia's ally, won renomination by only 55 votes over Susana Mendoza, a former Solis aide . . .

"When Richard M. Daley was elected mayor in 1989, Solis was among his more important Latino allies."

And then his allyship was transferred to Rahm.

*

Oh, and Acevedo? Here's a 2016 trap remix of Acevedo Jr.'s phone call to Solis:

*

Which reminds me:

"Sources said Solis has long harbored a grudge against Burke for the role he played in taking control of the United Neighborhood Organization away from Solis and essentially handing it over to Juan Rangel, long before Rangel was forced out in a spending scandal. Solis started as a schoolteacher in the 1980s, organizing several Latino community groups and co-founding UNO."

*

Chicago politics: It's like high school, except it goes on forever.

-

The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Pensive.



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Posted on January 29, 2019


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