April 4, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Elections: City Government: Chicago Sun-Times: Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack thinks elections in Berwyn, Illinois bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans

Peace Corps Online: State: Illinois: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Illinois : April 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: City Government: Chicago Tribune: Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack was campaign manager for Michael O'Connor's victory for Mayor of Berwyn : April 4, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Elections: City Government: Chicago Sun-Times: Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack thinks elections in Berwyn, Illinois bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-181-108.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 3:21 pm: Edit Post

Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack thinks elections in Berwyn, Illinois bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans

Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack thinks elections in Berwyn, Illinois bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans

Kenya RPCV Scott Waguespack thinks elections in Berwyn, Illinois bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans

Ugly elections link Berwyn and the Balkans

March 4, 2005


Berwyn is far from the Balkans so it might not be fair to compare an election in a western suburb of Chicago to post-war Kosovo. Then again, Scott Waguespack has worked on campaigns in both places and says he now believes Berwyn is closer to the Balkans than he ever dreamed. I'll come back to his story.

But first, in case you didn't know, there's a mayor's race going on in Berwyn and it isn't pretty.

Four men are vying for retiring Mayor Thomas Shaughnessy's job in the April 5 general election.

Shaughnessy, 79, is calling it quits. No wonder. The feds have been crawling all over city hall since January of last year seizing records and indicting his former deputy mayor, Samuel "Sonny" Stillo, on racketeering charges. A former alderman, Alex Bojovic, actually worked undercover for the FBI, wore a wire, pretended to be corrupt and allegedly caught Stillo on tape offering him a $500 bribe to throw his vote behind a sweet deal for an unnamed developer.

Bojovic, a "reformer," had dreams of replacing Shaughnessy so he ran in the February Democratic primary. What he quickly learned the hard way is that it's a lot easier to do cloak and dagger work for the feds than it is to go up against the Democratic machine in Berwyn. Even though the U.S. attorney's office sang Bojovic's praises, the opposition savaged him, portrayed him as a wife-beater and former juvenile delinquent, and he was toast.

He lost to Michael Woodward, the city clerk of Berwyn, who has the blessing of the departing mayor, not to mention healthy campaign contributions from guys who make very big bucks "consulting" for municipal governments, people like lobbyist Al Ronan and attorney Ed Vrdolyak.

But Woodward's real ace in the hole is Frank Marzullo. Marzullo is the public safety director of Berwyn in charge of the fire and police departments. Marzullo, one of the highest paid law enforcement officials in the nation at $167,000 a year, got his start in politics years ago under the tutelage of the late, legendary 25th Ward Chicago Ald. Vito Marzullo (no relation). He left Chicago for Berwyn 30 years ago.

All of which takes me back to Scott Waguespack and why he thinks elections in Berwyn bear an eerie resemblance to battlegrounds like the Balkans.

Waguespack is the campaign manager for another of the candidates running for mayor, Michael O'Connor. Last Sunday, he says three of his election workers were pulled over by Berwyn police, arrested, handcuffed, had their van impounded, their signs confiscated, and were locked in holding cells for five hours until they could post bond.

Waguespack says he counted seven squad cars at one point. Meanwhile, he says, while he was trying to get his guys out of jail, an unmarked vehicle was seen sitting outside one of O'Connor's campaign events with someone taking photos of supporters going in.

Both police boss Marzullo and the Democratic candidate he has endorsed, Woodward, say that's just nonsense. Woodward told me O'Connor is doing nothing but running a "negative campaign."

When I visited the police department in Berwyn Thursday, Marzullo said flatly that O'Connor's people were out breaking the law, tearing down Woodward signs and damaging property. As for O'Connor himself, Marzullo declared, "He has no issues but to go after me. He's got a vendetta."

This being Berwyn, sister city to Cicero, it is not always easy to know the facts. But I can tell you something I do know for sure. It has to do with money. Taxpayer money.

Berwyn is a town, after all, of a lot of decent people who work hard and don't make much money. A family of four earns just under $44,000 a year.

Do they know how their tax money is being spent? Absolutely not. Why not? Because Berwyn officials don't bother much with audits. The 2002 audit wasn't done until September of 2004. There is no still no 2003 audit. No work under way on 2004.

If I was running for mayor of Berwyn and I knew the feds were looking at my city's books with a microscope, I'd be on a big bandwagon to know all about the finances of my town.

Woodward, the Democrat, says talk of corruption in Berwyn is "negative." So I asked him about city finances. He drew a blank. What's Berwyn's bonded indebtedness? He wasn't sure. What are its principal revenue streams? He'd have to check.

Republican Anthony Castrogiovanni and independent Ray Fron were able to offer a few specifics but not many.

Only O'Connor, also an independent, managed to answer immediately and in detail. And only he expressed outrage at the missing audits.

In Berwyn, they call that "negative."

When this story was posted in April 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Chicago Sun-Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Elections; City Government



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