PLEBISCITE II: JUST LIKE CHRISTMAS
From today's Chicago Tribune:
"The two sides were holding placards and screaming at one another behind police tape while county workers carried in voting materials."
The hottest race here is the one for Cook County Board President. It's soclose in fact that we still don't know who the winner is the day after the election.
A bit of background: Cook County has a $3 million budget and myriad patronage opportunities and hence is like a magnet for some of our more cunning politicos. Last year around primary time then-president John Stroger, an African American Machine-supported Democrat, became very ill and had to step down. Somehow though he got his son on the ballot in his stead. Very third world. Very Evita Perone. Meanwhile interim board president Bobbie Steele (a female, African American Democrat) found proof positive of widespread corruption under Stroger's watch. Not that there's anything wrong with that here in the Windy City.
The current race between 43-year-old Democrat Todd Stroger and Tony Peraica, a Croatian-American Republican, was soclose that when I went to sleep last night it was 55 to 45 in favor of Stroger, with many precincts still to be counted. The votes were split along racial and suburban/city lines ouf course
What I didn't know was that at around 1 AM things got so out of hand that Peraica and supporters actually got into taxis and stormed the County Clerk's office -- which is headed by David Orr, a white, liberal, squeakly clean Democrat.
What prompted them were some election shenanigans that had taken place two hours earlier. According to the Sun-Times, "Orr emerged from his office to say 'hooligans' were trying to break into boxes with election cartridges inside.
"'Drunks or whoever, they were trying to block people from bringing them up,'Orr said. 'And the freight elevator was broken'
"Still, Orr said the integrity of the election hadn't been compromised.
"'Media cameras captured boxes being ripped open by unknown people, and others lying over the boxes to protect them. One man was arrested for allegedly damaging the elevator.'"
Once the Peraica people got there, "a Stroger campaign volunteer was seen briefly wedging himself into the revolving door. Eventually, most supporters were allowed in, and Peraica and six supporters met with Orr, along with seven Stroger supporters.
"'I smell a rat here,' Peraica said, citing $60 million in upgrades county taxpayers funded to improve voting equipment since a similar debacle in the March primary.
"Peraica's venomous response was a stark contrast to Stroger's reaction. Stroger, a Democrat, giggled as he told supporters he was going to bed for the night and would wake up today 'just like Christmas' and celebrate."
Sometimes, this is the best city ever.