The details behind the METRA Scandal just keep coming out. And those details illustrate how the Chicago Democratic Machine continues to operate under the radar and how past assertions by political observers that machine politics were dead has been (to borrow a phrase) "greatly exaggerated" by them. The fact is the Democratic Machine is not only alive and well but politicians who have tried passing themselves off as being one of the new fangled reform-minded leaders who will provide constituents with a transparency never seen before - just isn't true.
To put it another way - I think they lie through their teeth!
Of course I have written plenty about being careful what one wishes for, especially when it came to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Emanuel, at least, was easy to figure out given the information available about him on the web and in newsprint. So anticipating that he would run City Hall much the same way he ran things while serving former President William Jefferson Clinton in the White House was, well, easy. Hey, I can't help it that actions speak louder than words - its just the way it is you know?
Toni Preckwinkle, though, wasn't as easy to figure out after watching and listening to her numerous times on PBS' Chicago Tonight. However I will say this about her - she sure can talk as good a game as the best of them around here. Still, what ultimately done her in my mind was her unwavering support for Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios. Let's face it, when it comes to political patronage, nepotism and delusions that he is somehow like John F. Kennedy - this guy really takes the cake.
Anyhow, when news came out that Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaged METRA, it was just par for the course. As usual, it was just more of the same old political bullshit we get on a daily basis from our less than stellar politicians. But again, their actions speak louder than words. And what they did to protect their interests and a politically dysfunctional transportation board has only led to the realization that taxpayers are being handed a larger tab to pay on their behalf.
Particularly disturbing is yet another "special" relationship between Toni Preckwinkle and former METRA Board Member Larry Huggins.But one thing is becoming very evident about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle - she is not the reformer she claimed to be. Naturally that should have been crystal clear even before the METRA scandal when she fired MaryNic Foster as Cook County Ethics Chief after beginning an investigation into none other than her longtime political ally Joseph Berrios.
Matter of fact, Preckwinkle's continued support of Berrios borders on the perverse and I have to wonder what else is going on there. Of course that is just my own opinion but I have been following Chicago Politics nearly my entire life and their relationship is curious at best.
As for Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaging METRA that involves a political deal that was struck with State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) after Phil Pagano committed suicide by stepping in the front of one of his own agency's trains after financial irregularities were discovered there.
Senator Link, who was ready to dismantle the METRA Board of Directors and had the necessary votes to do exactly that, came into an agreement with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and allegedly Rahm Emanuel. That deal was to allow the board members to quietly retire by June 30, 2012 but Preckwinkle and Emanuel reneged in what appears to be a game of political slight of hand.
Rahm Emanuel says he never agreed that Larry Huggins be included in that agreement and 3 weeks after a June 22, 2011 letter signed by four State Senators and copied to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the five effected suburban METRA Board Chairmen stipulating that - Toni Preckwinkle (according to the Chicago Sun-Times) "wrote a letter to the same four lawmakers, saying Emanuel never agreed to let Huggins retire. In addition, Preckwinkle wrote that Huggins, with whom she had worked when she was an alderman, “has been a great help to me and I cannot and will not advocate to replace him in his current role on the Metra Board."
And that folks, is how you sabotage a deal the Chicago Way!
Larry Huggins was Emanuel's and Preckwinkle's man at METRA and they evidently didn't care whether or not the agency continued to go down the same path it was on under Phil Pagano. Besides Huggins has been a loyal political organizer and campaign contributor for Toni Preckwinkle. So it should make perfect sense that the Cook County Board President was going to protect the $$$.
After all, isn't it always about the money in Chicago?
And don't forget Larry Huggins has made plenty of money after filing bankruptcy in the '70 via Affirmative Action. His contracts have included construction at O'Hare International Airport, McCormick Place and was General Contractor for Cook County Hospital amid controversy when his company, Riteway Construction Services Inc missed filing its 1997 corporate annual report leading to its dissolution just prior to the groundbreaking after fours years in the making.
Now when it comes to Rahm Emanuel, even if I were to give him a pass on this one (and I'm not saying I am) the fact that Toni Preckwinkle has shown her true colors as being just another one of the rabid Machine Politicians who have taken over as Cook County Board President we must remind ourselves that the Cook County Board of Commissioners have had a long history of political patronage and corruption. I can still vividly remember the days when Richard B. Ogilvie and George W. Dunne ran roughshod over the taxpayers of the county.
I am just not sure that we need to keep electing the same wolves in sheep's clothing for that position. I don't know maybe it is just impossible to find an honest politician in Chicago and/or Illinois these days, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep trying to find one that has some real honor and integrity. Because if we don't then I shudder to think what it will be like for future generations.
I just wonder if the People of Chicago (Illinois) will ever wake up?
And finally elect people with real integrity.
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Tags: Affirmative Action, Chicago, Chicago Democratic Machine, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board of Commissioners, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Hospital, General Contractor Larry Huggins, George W. Dunne, Headline News, Illinois, Illinois Democrats, Illinois State Senator Terry Link, Larry Huggins and Government Construction Contracts, Larry Huggins and Riteway Construction Services Inc, Machine Politics, McCormick Place, Metra, METRA BOARD Chairman Larry Huggins, METRA Board of Directors, O'Hare International Airport, Op Ed, Phil Pagano, Political Corruption, Political Patronage, Politics, Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaged METRA, Rahm Emanuel, Richard B. Ogilvie, State Senator Terry Link, Terry Link, Toni Preckwinkle