The Chicago Syndicate: George Ryan
Showing posts with label George Ryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Ryan. Show all posts

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ditch the Al Capone Shirt and take The Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

Paul Dailing was fed up with the folksy and unaffected way people talk about Chicago corruption—think Al Capone T-shirts and the bemused smirk as people shrug and say, “That’s the Chicago way.”

The reality is corruption in Chicago has ruined untold numbers of lives and led to the untimely end of many of them. To remind people of this reality, albeit in an enlightening and entertaining way, Dailing combined his experience as a newspaper reporter, a journalism professor, and a riverboat tour guide to create a unique walking tour about political corruption in Chicago and Illinois.

“People don’t realize the actual cost of all of this,” Dailing says. “I want them to know that even though people love Richard J. Daley, if you were black, he wasn’t a great mayor. If you were gay, or a woman, or poor, or a hippie, or just not his friend, he was terrible. This stuff gets romanticized for some lousy reason.”

The Chicago Corruption Walking Tour begins aptly outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, moving north with stops at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, the Marquette Building, Thompson Center, one of our excessively expensive parking meters, a ritzy strip of River North that’s somehow in a tax increment finance, or TIF, district, and other downtown places to highlight key moments of unscrupulous power moves. Even people who’ve lived in Chicago their whole lives will learn something, Dailing promises.

“Capone’s men chased Octavius Granady [a black aldermanic candidate] through two wards before shooting him to death,” he says. “That was among the more disturbing stories I found while researching for the tour.”

Dailing’s topics range from seemingly outrageous (former mayor William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson threatening the king of England, the Chicago Outfit gangsters who also were aldermen) to all-too-familiar stories, like which four of our governors went to prison and which others were just criminally charged. He even uses maps to illustrate the most egregious examples of gerrymandering—like in the 4th district, where a stretch of highway where no one lives somehow connects two distinct areas.

Tours start Sunday, May 1, and spots can be reserved online. A mile-long tour is available for $15 and the full 2.25-mile tour costs $25. Half of the tour revenue goes to City Bureau, an organization that trains young journalists covering the south and west sides to create meaningful journalism that is published in local and national outlets (including this one).

One of the running themes throughout the tour is that it’s not always clear who’s bad and who’s good—"It’s a fluid issue,” Dailing says. Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, for example, may have sent disgraced former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich to prison, but he also threw reporters in jail during the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame affair.

“I think Otto Kerner was a great governor, except for the fact that he took bribes,” Dailing adds. “The Kerner Commission report delved into the race riots, and it was the first time the U.S. government admitted social inequality is a real thing.”

It gets even murkier at the turn of the century when 1st ward aldermen Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna and John “Bathhouse John” Coughlin came to power. While they helped poor citizens find better jobs and services, they also gave people free drinks at a bar in exchange for votes and used their influence to line their own pockets.

“They were basically scumbags for the people,” Dailing says. “But guys like Hinky Dink and Bathhouse also made things difficult for people who didn’t fall in line and vote the way they were told. Buying beers for votes is cute, but I try to show this in terms of a larger picture where things get worse, and suddenly these people aren’t so cute.”

Dailing says he hopes people leave the tour a little angry, a little more skeptical, but ultimately more aware of the extent to which corruption shaped Chicago and Illinois. “I don’t want people to leave this thinking it’s a hopeless situation,” Dailing says. “We know these stories because these people failed. The patronage system has been whittled down from the height of where it was, same with the Chicago Outfit. People are wising up that TIFs are bad politics.”

Political satire shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee are popular even though they point out sad-but-true aspects of the way the world works. With that in mind, Dailing hopes people enjoy the tour but also are upset enough to get more involved with local political processes.

“I do want people to be pissed off and to want to do something about it,” he says. “I also want people to have a different Chicago experience. It’s OK to marvel at how tall the Sears Tower is, but we have more to talk about here.

“And screw all the romanticizing of Al Capone. We don’t need an unhinged gangster killer on T-shirts.”

Thanks to Benjamin Feldheim.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Federal agents armed with warrant raid Melrose Park police station

Federal agents armed with a search warrant raided the police station in suburban Melrose Park on Thursday, an FBI spokesman said.

"We did have several agents there this morning," FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. The raid, he said, was part of an ongoing investigation but he declined to give details. He also declined to say what the agents were looking for and what, if anything, they found. "No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed," he said.

U.S. attorney spokesman Randall Samborn declined to comment.

A woman who answered the phone at the west suburban police station said that Chief Vito Scavo and his lieutenants were not immediately available to answer questions. The suburb has figured in a number of high-profile criminal cases in recent years. Former Melrose Park Mayor C. Augustus Taddeo pleaded guilty in 1999 to extortion and tax fraud and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.

In recent years, a federal investigation of illegal electronic gambling devices controlled by the mob found that many were installed in Melrose Park taverns and strip joints. And the FBI said recently that the mob has a street crew based in the suburb. The suburb was also the site of the first raid by federal agents in October 1998 on an Illinois drivers license testing station operated by then-Secretary of State George Ryan's office. It was the beginning of the Operation Safe Road investigation of bribes exchanged for drivers licenses and political corruption in the Ryan era.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Casino hearing expected to call reputed mobster

Reputed Chicago Outfit boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo and his brother, Peter DiFronzo, will be among those called to testify at a state hearing on whether to revoke the state gambling license once destined for Rosemont, Illinois Gaming Board sources said Thursday.

Robert CooleyWhen Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down--the corrupt lawyer turned government informant who testified in mob cases involving the nexus between the Outfit and politicians--is also expected to be called as a witness. Cooley is the author of the book "When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down."

The new head of the Gaming Board said he's looking forward to the hearing but isn't talking about who will testify. "I'd rather not comment on that, because I think it's up to the lawyers to conduct the case as they see it," Chairman Aaron Jaffe told me in a telephone interview. "But I will promise you this. It will be very interesting."

What he didn't say is important here. He didn't say they weren't going to subpoena the tough guys. He didn't say that the DiFronzos and others would not be called. He could have. But he didn't.

Gov. Rod "The Unreformer" Blagojevich appointed Jaffe with the understanding that the Gaming Board was to become independent again. That's nice, since Blagojevich tried to gut the board by denying it a full set of independent investigators.

Jaffe said that to make the board truly independent, though, the governor and the legislature must allow gambling officials to hire more investigators to be led by chief investigator Jim Wagner, the retired chief of the FBI's Organized Crime task force in Chicago. Wagner helped train several current FBI agents who brought the Operation Family Secrets case, with 18 previously unsolved mob murders, to indictment last week.

The Rosemont casino license has been a political Gordian knot. Republican powerhouses have pushed it as a favor to Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens and his ally, the indicted former Gov. George "Safe Roads" Ryan.

Last year, past board chairman Elzie Higginbottom, a longtime ally of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, led a controversial pro-Rosemont ruling. He and other board members dismissed the concerns of Gaming Board staff that Rosemont was mobbed up and approved a plan to steer a license to a new casino in Stephens' town.

One of those pro-Rosemont board members appointed by Blagojevich was Bill Fanning. After the Rosemont vote, Fanning privately told his colleagues he had neglected to inform them that he had once been related by a past marriage to reputed Outfit boss Joe "The Builder" Andriacchi. Then Fanning resigned. There was little official comment about the development. Fanning did tell colleagues, though, that he had rarely spoken to Andriacchi and hadn't seen him in years.

What surprised me was that Blagojevich hadn't asked Fanning--before appointing him--whether he knew any tough guys. But now Blagojevich says independent is a good thing. Good luck, Mr. Jaffe.

Rosemont was once the headquarters of Outfit boss Sam "Momo" Giancana. According to Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and other law enforcement authorities, Rosemont has been mobbed up.

Mayor Stephens, who will also be called to testify, vigorously disputes this characterization and has released the findings of an investigation he commissioned that said he's never been "connected to or associated with" the Chicago Outfit.

So I mentioned to Jaffe that he might consider calling another witness--Antoinette Giancana, daughter of the murdered Sam Giancana.

Several years ago, as Stephens was railing that his was not an Outfit town, I had breakfast with the gracious Antoinette and she remembered the days when Stephens eagerly hung out with her father at the Thunderbolt motel in the 1960s. Stephens disputes this. Obviously, a hearing would be quite interesting. "We were very friendly and casual and we all had a good time at the pool," she said. "My father's friends were there too. They had their board meetings in the banquet room. And Don was at the motel too, of course."

I asked her if it was true that the daughters of Outfit bosses teased the young and anxious Stephens by ordering him to fetch them towels at poolside. Did you ever say: Hey Don, get me a towel!? "Wait a minute!" Antoinette Giancana said. "I'd never shout, `Don, go get me a towel!' That would be rude. I was ladylike. You would say, `Don? Would you please get me a towel?'"

Recently, Jaffe appointed the distinguished jurist and former congressman Abner Mikva to preside over the hearing on the Rosemont license revocation. Jaffe said he expects Mikva to set a date for the hearing sometime next week. And Mikva has said he doesn't expect the hearing to drag on forever.

With all that's going on--Operation Family Secrets, City Hall corruption cases and Unreformer Blagojevich's problems--it'd be nice to spend time near a pool. Don, would you please bring me a towel?

Thanks to John Kass

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


Crime Family Index


Mafia Library