As chairman of the new Chumbolone Museum of Grant Park, I have an important announcement regarding my top underling and museum co-chair, Mayor Richard Daley.
We at the Chumbolone Museum have ordered the mayor to lead an expedition into Mexico to find Chicago's missing link: Marco Morales, the notorious corrupt fugitive and bribe-paying city contractor.
The Chumbolone Museum doesn't care how Daley brings him back, as long as he brings him back. Alive.
What we don't need is Marco in pieces, wrapped in butcher paper. Sure, we'll stuff Marco, if that's what the mayor wants, but only after Marco testifies in federal cases about bribes at City Hall.
"I don't think that's a very good idea," said a real top Daley administration official when I explained the extradition expedition. "I don't think he'll want to go."
Not even to bring Marco back? Alive? "No, not even for Marco," the official said.
Well, too bad. He's going, whether he likes it or not. Daley has already traveled to France and demanded the French extradite a suspected murderer for trial in Chicago. How can my own Chumbolone Museum vice chairman not apply his rigorous extradition standards to Mexico?
As loyal readers know, the mayor and I are co-founders of the Chumbolone Museum, so he won't have to support that other museum nobody wants in Grant Park. Chumbolone is Chinatown slang for fool, and as election results prove, there are millions of us in the Chicago area. We need a museum more than rich kids need a museum.
So if you don't see the mayor, don't worry, he'll be in Mexico, on the Marco hunt, with a hand-picked team of experts. They'll wear pith helmets and cute khaki shorts, and carry big nets on long poles over their shoulders, as befitting a proper museum expedition. Except for the mayor.
He'll have his own net, but he won't wear a pith helmet. A pith helmet would smash his hair and make his head perspire. Instead, he'll wear his famous Indiana Jones hat.
On Thursday, Tribune reporters Ray Gibson, Dan Mihalopoulos and Oscar Avila broke the news on the Tribune's Web site that Mexican federal police had seized Morales.
Morales had a deal with federal prosecutors here in Chicago years ago that he'd testify about bribes he paid to Daley administration officials in exchange for lucrative city contracts. But he changed his mind, ran to Mexico instead, and his son began receiving $40 million in Daley administration contracts. Naturally, the mayor knew nothing about hush money.
Mexican authorities arrested Morales in 2004, but denied extradition on corruption charges. Recently, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Morales on drug charges, making extradition easier. It also makes City Hall nauseous.
"I miss Chicago so much," Marco Morales told me in a phone interview last September. "I miss everything about Chicago."
But not enough to come back? "No," he said then. "I've got issues up there."
The main issue was the Chicago Outfit promising to blow his brains out if he continued talking about bribes he allegedly paid to Tony Pucillo, Daley's former Department of Transportation boss. And about his relationship with Daley insider and trucking boss Michael Tadin.
Pucillo's brother and Tadin were involved in a company that paved the city's streets, in a contract overseen by Tony and supported by Daley.
Back in the day, at Department of Transportation golf outings, Tony, Mike and the mayor would ride in the same golf cart, saying hello to laborers and vendors in the asphalt business. It was Daley's way of advertising that his boys had his blessing. Only a chumbolone wouldn't get it.
So we at the Chumbolone Museum called Pucillo and Tadin on Thursday, telling them to report for duty with the mayor. They'll ride a golf cart around and around the walls of the prison in Mexico City. The mayor will yell from the back seat.
"Marco! Marco! Where are you? Marco?"
Every great expedition requires bait to lure exotic creatures into the open, so explorers can catch them in their nets. And I've got just the thing.
"There's no Polish sausage around here. No Italian sausage," Marco told me in our interview. "You know that place the Carusos have in Bridgeport? Well, I'd die for one of those Polish sausages."
He meant the Maxwell Street Polish stand on 31st Street, and brothers Frank "Toots" Caruso and Bruno Caruso. The FBI considers them to be the experts on the Outfit's Chinatown crew.
"I just remember what a Polish tastes like and I miss it, you know, like I miss Chicago," Morales told me.
Don't worry Marco. The Chumbolone Museum will pay Toots to bring a hot sack of sangwiches for you. You're coming home, buddy.
Mayor Daley is on his way. But before he persuades me to stuff and mount you in the Chinatown Asphalt wing at our Chumbolone Museum, you'll have to talk to other experts.
Federal prosecutors and the FBI. But they're no chumbolones.
Thanks to John Kass
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