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Primary Notes

On the trail ahead of Tuesday's primary voting.

GIANNOULIAS: No wonder his handlers continue to try to keep him away from reporters. Every time he opens his mouth to answer a question - or to not answer a question - he illustrates why he is ill-prepared and undeserving of being a United States senator.

"Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias refused to provide details Thursday about whether his decisions contributed to his family bank's financial problems, saying five days before the election that those questions can wait for another time," Politico reports.

"'If I'm fortunate enough to make it out of the primary, we can have that conversation,' the Chicago Democrat told reporters."

Party leaders must be wondering if that's a promise or a threat.

*

As long as Giannoulias isn't talking, we'll turn to the estimable David Greising, in the pages of the New York Times on Sunday, and believe every word he says.

"Though he would not talk to the Chicago News Cooperative, in public statements Mr. Giannoulias has noted that four years have passed since he left the bank," Greising writes. "In a statement, the bank said only 9 percent of the $242 million in nonperforming assets currently on its books originated under Mr. Giannoulias."

Perhaps, but which nine?

"According to a review of the bank's annual filings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2001 through Sept. 30, 2009, the bank plunged into the sort of lending that has caused bank crises across the country: construction and development loans. Mr. Giannoulias's lending department sharply increased the construction and development portfolio to $356 million by 2006, six times the level it had been before he went to work there."

In other words, Giannoulias is an Illinois version of the kind of banker we're all so angry about.

"Construction-related lending jumped to more than triple the bank's required regulatory capital during this period, and the loans started to go bad. By the time Mr. Giannoulias departed, Broadway was left with nearly $14 million in real estate on its books, more than 10 times the level when he arrived. Foreclosures take time, though - often about 18 months. And within two years of Mr. Giannoulias's departure, the bank was left holding $38 million in real estate.

"The move into real estate coincided with a headlong push into brokered deposits. This is quintessential hot money - large amounts that jump from bank to bank, each bank offering the lure of high interest , which the banks then must fund by making ever-riskier loans."

Blame for the Bright Start fiasco is hard to sort out, but maybe Giannoulias didn't have the sensitivity to risk with other people's money that he should have. Just a thought.

"No one knows for certain how big a role Mr. Giannoulias played in these decisions."

Except Alexi. He knows. The fact that we don't should make him ineligible to hold any public office.

"As Broadway's top lending officer, he must have influenced the move into construction lending. As a connected family member, he was probably present during discussions of the hot-money play. Certainly, he took part in the family's decision to take out some $70 million in dividends from the bank in 2007 and 2008, even as it careened toward a consent decree with the F.D.I.C.

"Mr. Giannoulias told reporters that a time would come when he could answer questions about what happened at his family's bank. Here is hoping there is plenty of time, because questions keep mounting faster than the troubles at Broadway Bank."

*

To my knowledge, Mick Dumke of the Reader has delved more deeply into Giannoulias's problems at Broadway Bank than anyone. Read this and you'll see he shouldn't even be re-elected treasurer.

QUINN/HYNES: "At issue on the Burr Oak controversy are two documents: an internal corporate memo involving the cemetery owners and a later letter from Hynes' office to the cemetery owners," the Tribune reports. "Each document uses the term 'human remains,' but in different context. Hynes' office oversees cemetery trust finances.

"A Friday night report on WLS-Ch. 7 detailed what it described as a 2003 internal corporate memo in which the Burr Oak chief executive in charge of the cemetery at the time allegedly noted that its previous owners had buried over or cleared out old graves for new ones and expressed concern that older human remains had been dumped.

"A separate 2004 letter from Hynes' comptroller office to the same Burr Oak executive noted that the cemetery owner wanted to construct a mausoleum on the grounds, but in the process of excavation had found human remains. The Hynes' letter instructs the cemetery to contact the state's Historic Preservation Agency or the state's cemetery association.

"Quinn has seized on both documents, tying them together to allege that the issue of grave re-selling and dumping of human remains was known to Hynes' office as a result of the comptroller's memo. Hynes said the two documents were unrelated and that it would not be unusual for excavation in a century-old cemetery to unearth human remains in an area not previously charted."

*

Or, as I wrote in an e-mail on Friday to someone I know in the Quinn Administration:

"What does that story prove? Human remains found in a cemetery? Big surprise! I'm not for Hynes but this is ridiculous. The story doesn't say he was made aware of what was eventually discovered. He referred the problem to 'other agencies,' which makes sense given his statement that the comptroller's office - the comptroller's office! - only audits the books. This is just really sad and, frankly, I expect better of you. Jesus! Besides that, if this was the only mistake Hynes had made during his political career, well, not bad! I don't know who abducted Pat Quinn and replaced him with a creature made in Ed Burke and Joe Berrios's basement, but I can say I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a pol, including Obama and Larry Bloom."

QUINN: "If anybody asks, why should I vote on Tuesday, what's a stake? I'll tell you what's at stake," Quinn said. "Which way is our state going to go? Are we going to go backwards? Are we going to go back to those days in the 1980s when people were divided against each other? I don't think so."

So Pat Quinn is Harold Washington and Dan Hynes is . . . Ed Burke, who is supporting Quinn?

What's next, a plea of mercy from Quinn for Fast Eddie Vrdolyak in the name of racial healing?

DILLARD: "Last week, Dillard picked up the all-important endorsement of the Sangamon County Republican organization, which runs patronage in Springfield," John Kass notes.

"'Sangamon County is the heart and soul of the Illinois Republican Party,' Dillard said. 'This is where the brain trust is.'

"Perhaps. But Dillard neglected to mention whose brain he trusts.

"For years, the brain of the Sangamon Republicans has belonged to the county's political boss, William Cellini, the federally indicted asphalt king and gazillionaire developer. Cellini's sister was the patronage boss for Dillard's champion, former Gov. Jim Edgar. And Edgar rides on a prancing white horse in the Dillard campaign."

BROWN: Certified public accountant Dorothy Brown's disingenuous use of a click poll.

O'BRIEN: All you need to know is that he had Ald. Berny Stone (D-Hackville) at his side on Sunday even as he questioned Toni Preckwinkle's independent credentials.

McKENNA: "The loser [of the Republican gubernatorial debate] was Andy McKenna, who skipped the WTTW event (and a face-off the next day at WLS-AM) claiming a scheduling conflict," Eric Zorn writes.

Yes, he was scheduled to avoid public appearances with his opponents.

BERRIOS: And the truth.

More about the man Pat Quinn just endorsed - over a reformer.

IVI-IPO: See that insert of endorsed candidates in the Reader? Note this fine print: "Only those candidates who have made contributions to the Independent Campaign Committee are pictured and described therein."

"Independent of What?"

STROGER: Stroger is actually an effective advocate for the fiscal performance of the county during his tenure, it's just that too many people of varying political stripes think the books are cooked and, of course, he's been a disaster regarding personnel and patronage. Highly informative: This radio debate between Stroger and Tribune deputy editorial page editor John McCormick.

TONY PERAICA'S TWEETS: Scurrilous or too close to Election Day, Tony:

# Local media certainly did not extend the same courtesy to Mark Kirk when Andy Martin made far wilder allegations than Tony Cole did. about 14 hours ago from web

# So, why is the local media covering up for Todd Stroger? Would this same failure to report be extended to others? about 14 hours ago from web

# I have been contacted by WBBM (Craig Dellimore) and WBEZ (Sam Hudzik), yet there has not been any coverage of Cole's press conference. about 14 hours ago from web

# Although numerous local reporters were present, there has been NO coverage of Cole's explosive statements. Why the double standard? about 14 hours ago from web

# Tony Cole, whom Stroger refered to as "poster boy for the county" held a presser Friday at County Bldg. about 14 hours ago from web

# COUNTY BUILDING PRESSER: Tony Cole: "Todd Stroger made sexual advances toward me." This could be fatal to the dormant Stroger campaign. 2:53 PM Jan 29th from web

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on February 1, 2010


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