Friday, January 21, 2005

Who is Milorad? Ask Dominic Longo.

The public letters between Alderman Mell and Chris Kelly on apologies and retractions has given at least one other former Blagojevich backers some inspiration.

Dominic Longo, an employee of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and a political operative, has sent a letter to "Governor Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich" demanding that he and his press secretaries stop defaming Mr. Longo's work ethic. Longo is widely portrayed in the mainstream media as a corrupt operative (I have no basis to know whether the portrayals are true or not), and apparently Governor Blagojevich is echoing that line with the press.

The letter is a nasty little piece.

Illinois Leader broke this story and has the letter on its website here.

[UPDATE: Maybe Rich Miller broke it, I can't tell. I should stop saying who broke a story. . . .but since I don't subscribe to Capital Fax yet, the Leader broke it for me]

These are the nastiest bits:

Making a point of calling Rod by his apparently given name: Milorad. Why? Some sort of old school dig? As in: I know your real ethnic background, Milorad, and how dare you leave me behind like some 'wild and crazy guy' that you are embarrased to be seen with?

Arguing that Blagojevich committed to "making Dominic Longo a rich man" after his 1992 primary win for state representative.

A threat to sue Blagojevich personally, his campaign fund (which is the proverbial 'deep pocketed defendant' to look for in a civil case) and apparently, the State of Illinois by suing Blagojevich in his capacity as Governor (which would be a stretch).

And the final one that captures why these old school Northwest side politicos really have hurt feelings: "cease and desist from your wrongful conduct, irregardless of how ambitious you are and how important it is to distance yourself from Dominic Longo." They feel that they brought this young guy up into politics, and now that Blagojevich is in a position of power, he wants to publicly embarrass them in order to appear like a clean-government reformer to the average voter.

I guess I'd have a tad more sympathy for these old school guys if they weren't using Blagojevich in the first place in order to extract more of the commonwealth for their own personal purposes (jobs or contracts).

We really can't let this sort of stuff define the Democratic Party in any way. Makes me wonder where we would be if Paul Vallas were our governor.


Phocion said...

This whole thing is starting to look like a Jerry Springer show. By the way, is "irregardless" a word?

Anonymous said...

irregardless, these guys that help a canidate should be able to get a job or a contract (quid pro quo) after they win. why not? why have they renewed so many contracted and kept so many non protected employees?

irregardless, NimRod has screwed those that supported him.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

No, 'irregardless' is not a word. But don't blame me: I'm just quoting the lawyer's letter.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Dan, that it's hard to be sympathetic to Mell and Longo. If the issue was just that Blago was ignoring the Northwest side machine guys, this dustup would be a huge political plus for Blagojevich.

The problem is that Blagojevich (or his staff) treated a whole bunch of people who are not looking for lucrative jobs or contracts in the same category as the ward guys. Almost every group and individual that got on board early with Blagojevich is out in the cold. A lot of people who genuinely care about issues, and are involved in the political process because of their beliefs, find that they have no voice in the Blagojevich administration.

Blagojevich (and his staff) have simply decided that they don't need his base anymore. Politically, that's a huge mistake. If this were merely a case of Blagojevich jettisoning some of the more unsavory elements of his coalition, the dustup would not be as big a story.

The problem for Blagojevich is that he is treating everyone who is involved in politics in the same manner, as if everyone is simply a greedy opportunist. The political liability is that neither Blagojevich nor his staff seem to realize they are doing it.

Blagojevich is facing the same fate as another ambitious first-term Governor with a difficult-to-pronounce last name and presidential ambitions. Blagojevich should ask Michael Dukakis about his first term as Massachusetts governor -- and how he ended up losing his re-election bid.

Vasyl (one day I'll register for blogger)

FightforJustice said...

I hope Vasyl isn't under the misapprehension that G-Rod eschews patronage. He hands out choice state jobs to people connected to Daley, Lapinski and other ward bosses. Yet he's frozen out the one guy he owes the most.

Anonymous said...

Fightforjustice: my point isn't that Rod eschews patronage -- in fact, he's raised the art of pinstripe patronage to new heights. The point is that beyond not giving jobs to his allies who were in it only to make their political organizations grow , he's also managed to alienate groups and individuals who genuinely care about issues. Pretty much every progressive group thinks George Ryan was better for their issue than G-Rod.

If the administration was merely screwing the ward bosses out of jobs, G-Rod would win the public relations battle as a reformer. The problem is that he has also shut out -- from jobs, from access, from decisionmaking -- a whole bunch of people who are involved in politics because they care about issues, not because they will make money. (Btw, this includes some people/groups who helped G-Rod win the election because they thought he would make a good Governor.)

It's hard for G-Rod to justify running such a closed shop as "reform" when at the same time, there are a whole bunch of people making big money from their contacts with the Governor's office.

G-Rod's base will stick with him in 2006 only if there's no viable alternative. The real story here is not Mell or Longo's criticisms; it's that people who used to support G-Rod are now willing to take their complaints about this Governor public.

Vasyl (something about blogger registration)

Anonymous said...

fight for justice wrote something like:
>froze out the guy he owes most

The problem with so many old-timers is they wax all cynical about what the new guys owe to the ones who go out and get the votes ...
but they forget to count the votes first. Back when the machine was the machine, they really delivered. Now you have a bunch of guys like Longo trying to trade an empty suitcase for real power. And too many weak office-holders are afraid to call their bluffs.

I mean, why would Rod owe Longo so much? For the 3,000 vote margin in the 33rd Ward? the 2,000 in 36? Those are piddling margins, given that Rod was the incumbent congressman. Most of those people would have voted for him if nobody ever knocked on their door at all.

Longo is considered such a king-maker on the white northwest side, but when you get to actual white wards (36 is largely black anymore, 33 hispanic), Rod lost the 41st to Vallas by 2300, lost 45 to Vallas by 300, beat Vallas by only 60 votes in the 39th, where Rod was held to less than 50% by the two opponents.

Rod lost the city. People forget that. Came in dead last out of 3 candidates. He doesn't owe anybody in the city anything, least of all Dominic Longo.

If anybody could be regarded as primarily responsible for Rod, it would have to be the congressional delegation, who got together behind him in a cheesy deal because they thought they could then abolish his district and avoid having to map out one of their own. This seeming unanimity allowed him to wear the mantle of a sort of consensus regular party candidate, bringing in the money that actually won it for him. Sadly for them, Rod's district had grown by so many thousands of new residents, and was so hemmed in by the demands of the Voting Rights Act as they relate to the Gutierrez and Davis districts, that the bargain failed, and his district lived on to be picked up by Rahm Emmanuel.

Anyway, all this talk about old-school guys who can't count votes has me thinking about my favorite issue:

Dan, any chance you'll start writing about voting equipment soon? I think it's time we explain to everybody exactly how many votes the democrats will lose if the city gets first pick on voting machines. It's increasingly obvious that no one else bothers to count, so I guess we'll have to spell it out for them.

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