Chumbolone (pronounced chum-buh-LOAN), my favorite Chicago political word that explains exactly what politicians think of us taxpayers, has finally made it to the big time, with its own listing on urbandictionary.com. And as a bonus, today there's even more chumbolonian news.
The corrupt cop Anthony "Twan" Doyle -- who first uttered the word from a federal witness stand and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for being a messenger boy for bosses of the Chicago Outfit -- will petition the police pension board on Thursday in the hopes of keeping his pension.
"I'm not going to diminish his conviction and say it's insignificant, because it's not," said Twan's lawyer, the criminal defense whiz Ralph Meczyk. "But one event erased the career of a hardworking copper, and as far as his pension goes, it shouldn't be a complete loss.
"It's not going to be easy, I know."
Meczyk is scheduled to appear before the police pension board, one of the groups that mysteriously gave Mayor Richard Daley's nephew $68 million of city pension cash to invest, and the mayor says he knew absolutely nothing about it. The mayor thinks we're chumbolones.
Twan's gambit, that he was a good cop despite the Outfit messenger boy stuff, probably won't work. But given precedent, it's worth a try.
Just last February, convicted serial arsonist and former Chicago Fire Department Lt. Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle sought to recover his $50,000-a-year city pension despite the arson convictions.
Boyle's legal theory? When he set the fires, he was off duty, not on city time. The city fire pension board asked Boyle what his years as a firefighter taught him about being a good arsonist. "The hotter it got, the more it would burn," Boyle said. A clean answer without ambiguity. But he didn't receive his pension.
The reason I called Meczyk was to inform him that "chumbolone" had made it to urbandictionary.com, and to ask Meczyk to get all his friends and clients to go online and vote a jolly "thumbs up" for the word.
"I like chumbolone," Meczyk said. "You popularized it. And it's such a Chicago thing, it's part of Chicagoese now. I haven't met anyone, almost, who doesn't like the word, except for one person."
Twan was known as the big silent guy with the big biceps who hung around with reputed mob street boss Frank "Toots" Caruso in Chinatown.
Twan had been picked up on federal recordings, visiting convicted Outfit boss Frank Calabrese Sr. in prison and talking about murder evidence while joking about using a cattle prod on mafioso cooperating with the FBI. But Twan testified he had no idea what Calabrese had been saying. He said he only kept nodding and agreeing out of good manners.
"I gave him lip service," Twan said from the witness stand, shrugging. "I didn't know what he was talking about. I don't wanna look like a chumbolone, an idiot, stupid."
Search for the word on urbandictionary.com, and you'll see it right next to the condom ad and the photo of a curvy young woman selling T-shirts that say: "Make Awkward Sexual Advances, Not War."
Here's the Web site's definition:
Chumbolone -- idiot, stupid -- Popularized by Chicago newspaper columnist John Kass after first hearing the word spoken in testimony by mob messenger boy Anthony "Twan" Doyle during a 2007 federal trial. While working for the mob, Doyle got himself hired into the Chicago Police Department evidence department in order to remove or destroy DNA and other evidence of mob homicides.
Some readers insist that chumbolone is not a proper word. Others say it refers to a tasty Italian cake. One reader in particular really doesn't want me to use it.
"Twan doesn't like you using the word," Meczyk said. "He really doesn't like it."
"He never said. He's quite stoic in this regard," Meczyk said. "He's in prison, but he's no chumbolone."
Thanks to John Kass
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