January 6th, 2003, 09:51 AM
Gotta love the Chicago political machine
A friend of mine is living with his aunt who is currently running for alderman here in the city... the political cronies tried to mess with her last week and the following article
was printed in the Chicago Sun Times. I guess the story had TV coverage as well. You read about this stuff, but not until he told me about it over the phone would I have believed it:
Police probe stakeout of 33rd Ward challenger
January 4, 2003
BY FRAN SPIELMAN CITY HALL REPORTER
The Chicago Police Department has launched an internal investigation to determine why a pair of Albany Park District patrol officers--in uniform, in a police wagon on city time--spent part of their Dec. 27 workday conducting surveillance outside the Northwest Side home of Deb Gordils, an opponent to Ald. Richard Mell (33rd).
Both officers have been reassigned to desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation. One of them, 23-year police veteran Chester Hornowski, is a perennial political candidate and an aldermanic challenger this time around in the 38th Ward.
Hornowski, who couldn't be reached Friday for comment, and his unidentified partner are being investigated for allegedly taking pictures of Gordils with a telephoto lens, then returning to the candidate's home 90 minutes later.
In the second visit, police said they allegedly "lured her out of the home onto her front porch" to snap a few closeup photos, then questioned Gordils about her nominating petitions, which they had in their hands and, after identifying themselves as Mell's representatives, asked the challenger what it would take to get her out of the race.
"They said, 'What are you looking for? What job can we get you? Do you want something with the Water Reclamation District? You only have to go to a couple of meetings. You want a state job? We can get you a state job,' " Gordils said.
"I'm surprised they think they can get away with this kind of abuse of power in 2003. I grew up in Chicago. I heard of this stuff in the '70s, but not today. It boggles the mind."
Turnabout is fair play. Unbeknownst to the two officers, Gordils grabbed the camcorder that happened to be sitting next to her Christmas tree and took video of them taking photos of her. The tape has been turned over to the Police Department's Office of Professional Standards.
Mell is trying to knock Gordils off the ballot, in part, by alleging that she fraudulently claimed to have gathered signatures obtained by somebody else. Armed with a picture of Gordils, Mell's camp could go back to voters whose signatures appear on Gordils' petitions and ask them if, in fact, she was the circulator.
"Ald. Mell is using the Police Department to do his political dirty work. ... This is a guy who's been remapped into a Hispanic ward. He's never had a serious challenge. He finally has one, and he calls out the thugs. This is the kind of thing that Betty Loren-Maltese is being sentenced for next week," said Gordil's attorney Richard Means, whose research helped force the resignation of state House Minority Leader Lee Daniels (R-Elmhurst).
Mell deplored the political surveillance by uniformed police officers and insisted he had nothing to do with it.
Hornowski contributed $450 to Mell last June and hung signs for Mell's son-in-law, Gov.-elect Rod Blagojevich. But the alderman insisted Hornowski was acting on his own in the mistaken belief that, if Mell was unchallenged, his 33rd Ward precinct captains would be free to support him in the 38th Ward race against incumbent Ald. Thomas Allen.
"It's embarrassing. Like I'd have to do this? I'm that stupid that I would ask a police officer to go during the day and do something like this when everybody and his mother has video cameras? Use common sense," said Mell, who says he's "100 percent" behind Allen in the 38th Ward race.