Kadner: Madigan aide helps Dems win Worth Twp.
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org April 10, 2013 6:16PM
Updated: May 12, 2013 1:50PM
A slate of Democratic Party candidates that included one of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s top political operatives took over Worth Township government in Tuesday’s election.
Money poured into the race from Democratic Party officials throughout the state, including state Rep, Barbara Flynn Currie, of Chicago, Water Reclamation District Commissioner Michael Alvarez, of Chicago, and David Gonzalez, mayor of Chicago Heights, to name just a few.
Edward Moody, of Chicago Ridge, won the Worth Township highway commissioner’s race.
“He’s the guy Madigan sends in to get out the vote in any state legislative race that’s important,” said a Democratic Party insider.
John Murphy, the longtime Republican Worth Township supervisor who put a bipartisan slate together for the campaign, claimed Madigan (the state Democratic Party chairman) was behind the effort to overthrow his slate of candidates.
“Why else would state representatives and senators from Chicago and the northern suburbs be sending $1,000 campaign contributions into this race?” Murphy said, citing such a contribution from state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
Murphy, of Evergreen Park, in office for 16 years, was beaten by Kevin M. Hughes, who received 52.4 percent of the vote to Murphy’s 47.4 percent.
The Democrats also won the races for township clerk, township assessor, and appeared to have won three of the four seats for township trustee.
John Toscas, the current township assessor and a Republican, also lost his bid for Crestwood mayor.
“There were union people all over the polling places in this campaign,” Toscas said about the Democratic victory. “I never saw this many people out in a presidential race.”
As for Madigan’s involvement: “We believe the public is always better served when Democrats are in control of government,” said Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan.
“But this was a local race. The chairman of the state Democratic Party does not get involved in local races.”
Brown said he knows of no strategy by Madigan to take control over township governments in suburban Cook County.
But there seems to be a clear pattern, at least in the south suburbs.
In recent years former state Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) became supervisor of Bremen Township; state Rep, Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) became supervisor of Calumet Township; Paul O’Grady, who is closely tied to Madigan, became supervisor of Orland Township and Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) is supervisor in Rich Township.
Former state Sen. Louis Viverito (D-Burbank) has been supervisor in Stickney Township for 40 years and longtime Democratic Party stalwart Frank Zuccarelli has been supervisor in Thornton Township since 1993.
T.J. Somer, a former Republican turned Democrat, is supervisor of Bloom Township.
Palos Township Supervisor Colleen Grant-Schulmann appears to be the last Republican township leader standing in south suburban Cook County.
Moody, a former Chicago Ridge 1271/2 school board president, said he has been working closely with Madigan since 1996 and helped the speaker regain control of the House in 1996 after Republicans had gained the majority in 1994.
“I’ve been all over this state campaigning for Democratic candidates and I think if they contributed to this campaign they were just expressing their gratitude for all the work I had done,” Moody said. “I’ve been building relationships for years.”
Moody said he believes voters supported The Worth Township Community First slate because the candidates promised to freeze their salaries, rebate tax money to homeowners, pass term limits (eight years in office), end pensions for township office holders and take care of a lot of things that have been left unattended.”
As highway commissioner Moody would receive $30,000 a year for a part-time job and supervise 14 miles of roads in unincorporated areas.
Moody, 48, said he hopes to bring back state grants to the area that have been going to other townships for road repair programs.
He works full-time as an administrator to the chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court in Bridgeview.
“Mike Madigan didn’t endorse anyone in this race and didn’t get involved,” Moody said.
“I got involved because I’m excited about the possibilities of bringing transparency and reform to local government. I think we have a real opportunity here to do good things for the people of Worth Township.”
Murphy, who was angry early in the week about the Democrats spreading “stacks” of political literature throughout the sounded more composed on Wednesday.
“Everything comes to an end,” Murphy said, about the election’s outcome. “That’s the way it is.”
Previously, Murphy had stressed that township officials hadn’t had a pay raise in 15 years, despite the rhetoric of the Democratic opposition.
Worth Township Democratic Committeeman John O’Sullivan is a controversial character who in 2011 was named as a temporary replacement for state Rep. Kevin Joyce who moved to Florida.
O’Sullivan cast a vote for the controversial 67 percent state income tax hike during his short stint.
Cook County’s inspector general claimed O’Sullivan falsified his time card while working at Stroger Hospital and Sullivan was fired.
He was later hired by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and dismissed, with forest preserve officials claiming there were problems with O’Sullivan’s resume. O’Sullivan contended there was nothing wrong with his resume and officials were merely reacting to publicity about his previous firing after he was hired by the county again.
The Better Government Association and many newspaper editorials have called for the elimination of township governments, which they claim serve no useful function.
It seems that Democrats believe that as long as townships exist, they can suit the party’s purposes.
And that means the Illinois Legislature isn’t going to be abolishing them anytime soon.