#21 Aug 15, 2013
Editorial: Jesse Jackson Jr.'s soft fall
August 15, 2013
"I grew up in a house with great expectations. Everything I do has a mark of excellence on it. I did what my community said do — go to college, get a degree, come back to it, be a faithful servant and play by the rules. If I want to be a lawyer, that's not enough. I need to be a Supreme Court justice one day. If I want to be an elected official, that's not enough. One day, son, you may be president."
— Jesse Jackson Jr., quoted in the Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1995.
The serial thieving allowed the prominent and well-to-do couple — they earned nearly $350,000 in 2011 — to spend some $750,000 looted from political funds. "This was a knowing, organized joint misconduct that was repeated over many years," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Wednesday in Washington.
Federal prosecutors wanted the felonious ex-congressman to do four years in prison, a term near the low end of federal guidelines. The judge instead chose 30 months. Jesse Jr. will surrender around Nov. 1 and, barring the unexpected, will be home before Christmas 2015, having served 85 percent of that sentence. His wife, Sandi, then will serve 12 months.
The light penance got us thinking about another ex-congressman, Rod Blagojevich. He and Jackson once were so close in the U.S. House that one colleague called them Salt and Pepper. Blagojevich's conviction on 18 corruption counts certainly eclipsed Jackson's plundering. But in dispatching the disgraced governor for 14 years — he'll probably serve almost 12 — U.S. District Judge James Zagel made what ought to be the resounding thunder at every public corruption sentencing:
"The harm is the erosion of public trust in government" because when a politician goes bad he damages a system that relies on the willing participation of its citizens. "You," Zagel said, looking at Blagojevich, "did that damage." As did Jesse Jr. and Sandi Jackson. They should feel great relief that they are not being more harshly punished for their gaudy greed, their abuse of their constituents' trust.
The case similarly comes to an unsatisfying close for mental health advocates who have seen a possible teaching moment devolve into unanswered suspicions: Although his lawyer said Wednesday that Jackson "suffers from a very, very serious mental health disease," a prosecutor countered that because Jackson pleaded guilty rather than stand trial, there is no expert testimony, or evidence discovery process, or independent examination of the defendant. One of Jackson's prime explanations for his crime will not be litigated.
We wish the Jacksons constructive lives after they do their time. But looking back to those great expectations of 1995, the year he would win his House seat after another congressman's criminal conviction, the rest of us are left to marvel at little but the plunge:
The potential Supreme Court justice, or maybe president, instead is a convict and, soon enough, a federal prisoner.
#22 Aug 16, 2013
Feds accuse ex-city comptroller Amer Ahmad of money-laundering, bribery in Ohio
BY MITCH DUDEK AND FRAN SPIELMAN
Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to order an audit of the work of his former comptroller, Amer Ahmad, after learning Thursday of a federal indictment accusing Ahmad of money laundering, bribery and other public corruption charges related to his previous position as deputy treasurer in the state of Ohio.
The indictment alleges that Ahmad, 38, used his authority in the Ohio treasurer’s office to direct state business to Douglas E. Hampton, 39, a securities broker from Canton, Ohio, in return for payments from Hampton.
“We have no reason to believe and have no knowledge of any such wrongdoing during his tenure in Chicago,” Sarah Hamilton, communications director for the mayor, who’s on vacation, said in a statement.“But we will take any action that is needed — including conducting a review of Finance Department activities over the last two years — to ensure that Chicago taxpayers are protected.”
Ahmad and Joseph Chiavaroli, 33, of Chicago, allegedly concealed those payments from Hampton by passing them through the accounts of a landscaping business in which Ahmad and Chiavaroli held ownership interests. Hampton also allegedly funneled in excess of $123,000 to Mohammed Noure Alo, an attorney and lobbyist who is Ahmad’s close personal friend and business associate. As a result of the scheme, Hampton allegedly received about $3.2 million in commissions for 360 trades on behalf of the Ohio Treasurer’s office. Ahmad and his co-conspirators allegedly received in excess of $500,000 from Hampton.
Contacted Thursday evening, Ahmad texted a Chicago Sun-Times reporter a copy of a Market Watch story that stated he planned to plead not guilty Monday in federal court.
While working for Emanuel, Ahmad played a pivotal role in disbanding the Department of Revenue and folding it into the Department of Finance, which came under Ahmad’s control. He also dramatically reduced the amount of outstanding fines owed to the city by going after scofflaws. The move generated an additonal $70 million in 2012 alone.
Earlier this year, Ahmad served as the point man in Emanuel’s controversial decision to phase out Chicago’s 55 percent subsidy for retiree health care by 2017 while continuing that coverage for the oldest retirees.
The plan will free taxpayers from a $108.7 million-a-year burden. Thirty thousand retired city employees will be forced to switch to Obamacare.
Emanuel praised Ahmad’s work in a new release issued last month announcing his resignation, saying:“Amer has played an integral role in my efforts to reform government, strengthen the city’s finances, and professionalize our approach to fiscal management.”
Before joining Emanuel’s administration, Ahmad had worked as a corporate finance investment banker for Wasserstein Perella, the firm where Emanuel made his millions. He also worked at William Blair & Company and KeyCorp Bank.
Ahmad’s abrupt departure immediately followed an unprecedented triple drop in Chicago’s bond rating and preceded the unveiling of Chicago’s 2014 preliminary budget.
Ahmad said then that he was leaving the Emanuel administration to work in the private sector. City Hall sources said Thursday the federal investigation and impending indictment had nothing to do with Ahmad’s abrupt departure from City Hall.
#23 Aug 16, 2013
Open the Books!
Follow the Money!
Look and Read the Contracts!
Look at Payroll!
Read the Treasurer Reports!
Look at the Streets!
Look at the Closed Bridges!
Look at the
That sloshing sound you hear is NOT THE OCEAN!
And.....It is Very Obvious to ALL there IS a PROBLEM at BLUE ISLAND CITY HALL!
#24 Aug 16, 2013
Sources reveal; "they plan to plead not guilty."
#25 Aug 16, 2013
Where did Blue Islands money go to? Not to the pension funds, they are under funded. Not to rebuild the bridges, they are closed. Not to repave the roads, most are in deplorable condition!. A smart citizenry would demand answers.
#26 Aug 17, 2013
The Blue Island City Council should revisit and tighten their internal financial controls to provide adequate oversight and cross checking to ensure current and future piles of taxpayer cash goes to pay actual bills instead of some where else or missing as has been the routine practice.
#27 Aug 17, 2013
To a Tee!
#28 Aug 17, 2013
The above can happen when city treasurer treasurer Carmine Biloto refuses to do an adequate job, for obvious reasons! Biloto should not hold any public office.
#29 Aug 18, 2013
Run away spending, pollution, poor decisions, and more headaches for the Blue Island taxpayers and residents!
#30 Aug 18, 2013
A first, second, and at leadt third "Reading through some of the Agreements" should be "Required Reading" for Blue Island elected officials, with questions, answers, and clear understanding!
#31 Aug 18, 2013
The Blue Island Elected Officials are doing what they have "ALWAYS DONE" vote with "NO INFORMATION!"
#33 Aug 26, 2013
Blue Island has More financial challenges, from new hires, pensions, bonds,TIFs, land bank, and JAWA.
#34 Aug 26, 2013
Mayor Rita lets them know how to vote.
#35 Sep 1, 2013
him too wrote:
You included DeRango going back that far. Does anyone know what the needed credentials are since no one has had them? Every city job should have a written job description with required credentials/qualifications described, and those things should be public. I am guessing that NO department head or supervisor position (or whatever they are called now) in Blue Island has such a document. What happened to all that transparency? Why aren't these things easily accessible on the city's website? Today, the first thing on the website is the new mayor pro tem breaking his arm patting his own back about a newsletter. NO credibility left, he sold out too. Sad.
If you were here when John Rita was Mayor,nothing has changed. Mayor Peloquin took over where he left off, and we had more corruption. Mayor Domingo Vargas has taken over, and we have experienced increased corruption. He is a lawyer and it does not matter. There will be an election in nineteen months, get behind people who are not in it for themselves. If you have the guts, to come up against State Rep, Calumet Township Supervisor, Calumet Tow
#36 Sep 1, 2013
Let's all support someone who can't see the difference in Blue Island today compared to when Rita was Mayor. Way to start a campaign. It's no wonder you can't beat the Democrats.
#38 Sep 1, 2013
Illinois Democrats are racing each other to the pen.
#39 Sep 3, 2013
Federal investigators focus on suburb's police force
Grand jury inquiry seems to center on Midlothian sergeant
A top south suburban police officer has come under federal scrutiny, with a grand jury seeking information about misconduct allegations and the department's "use of force" manual, the Tribune has learned.
The investigation appears to center around Midlothian Sgt. Steven Zamiar, a 13-year veteran who helped oversee the suburb's force as deputy chief until a recent political shake-up. It remains unclear exactly what about Zamiar — or the small department — has drawn the attention of federal investigators.
Zamiar, 46, won't say. The suburb's recently appointed police chief, Harold Kaufman, would say only that "numerous" people from the department have been questioned in the inquiry.
The village has received two federal grand jury subpoenas this year. The first sought Zamiar's personnel file, specifically requesting records related to allegations of misconduct by the officer, among other documents.
The second subpoena arrived in late June seeking police logs and call records tied to three days in 2011, along with the department's policy manuals regarding "use of force by police officers."
On one of those days, Zamiar filed an incident report saying he used a baton to subdue a suspect after an early morning chase outside a bar — at a time department records show he was not clocked in. Charges against the suspect for assault and resisting an officer were later dropped, according to court records.
Zamiar confirmed the federal investigation but declined further comment.
"I don't really have anything to say about it," Zamiar said. "It's an investigation, that's all I know."
Zamiar remains on duty with the department. The village told the Tribune there was no record of any internal investigations of Zamiar in the last three years.
The suburb's former police chief, David Burke, told the Tribune he thought the investigation centered on a burglary of Zamiar's car in front of his Midlothian home.
Police records show that in 2010 Zamiar chased suspects from his house and called police. Police records show the two 19-year-old suspects were caught and charged with felony burglary. Court records show both pleaded guilty and received probation.
As for the 2011 case, it was early on Thanksgiving when Zamiar reported that he saw a crowd being pushed out of a local bar by security.
Zamiar's time sheets for that day don't show him clocked in, but Zamiar wrote in his incident report that he was working in the area and approached the scene at the bar.
After learning there was a fight, Zamiar said a witness pointed out the suspect. Then after a brief chase, Zamiar said the suspect "turned toward me in an aggressive manner."
"At this time I utilized my ASP Baton and the subject was taken into custody without further resistance," Zamiar wrote.
Zamiar said the suspect later complained of pain but signed a refusal for medical treatment.
The suspect's attorney declined to comment.
Zamiar has faced past allegations of abuse. He was accused in 2007 of giving a suspect a concussion while trying to arrest him. That case was settled.
Early in his career, Zamiar faced three other lawsuits alleging excessive force, all within his first year on the beat. The village denied the allegations in all cases and court records appear to show one was settled, while the other two were dropped.
Records related to the suits were received by the grand jury in response to the first subpoena.
A look at Zamiar's work history in the village also shows a number of recognitions. Among several citations for achievement are commendations for drug busts as well as his work when a knife-wielding assailant went on a rampage at a shopping center, leaving a 1-year-old dead.
#40 Sep 3, 2013
Zamiar also has a record of attending numerous courses in recent years, including special training in the proper use of force. Records show he completed three such courses the same year that he said he used his baton in the 2011 incident.
Burke, who appointed Zamiar deputy chief in 2011, said Zamiar is a good cop.
"(Zamiar) doesn't know what's going on. They won't tell him either," Burke said. "He's losing sleep, and he's quite upset about it. He's never done anything wrong."
The FBI needs to investigate Blue Island corruption. Who is stopping them?
#41 Sep 3, 2013
Power and money can negatively influence and impact good people. Following an election many elected officials change especially people with party affieliation. They have been effected, indoctrinated, and slowly poisoned before they even know it.
#42 Sep 3, 2013
Calumet City, Dolton, Harvey, Markham, Midlothian, and Robbins; are Alsip, Blue Island, Calumet Park, and Posen next?
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