Saturday, December 15, 2012

Anita Alvarez – How far she’s fallen!

It wasn’t all that long ago that Anita Alvarez was actually a respected public official. Which makes the amount of hostile rhetoric she’s getting these days somewhat surprising.
ALVAREZ: Complaining to CBS

She may well be getting hit with more abuse than state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, the congressional candidate who had hopes of an easy ride to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr., in Congress until his recent arrest at O’Hare International Airport.

WE DEFINITELY HAVE in Alvarez and Trotter the “first couple” of abused Chicago political people.

Both have gone “national” in their political embarrassment. For the Cook County state’s attorney, her embarrassment came from a recently-aired episode of “60 Minutes” that portrayed her office as abusing the rights of defendants to extort false confessions out of them.

After several days of refusing to comment, Alvarez is now claiming the report was a “misrepresentation of the facts,’ and she says she sent a formal letter of complaint to the chairman of CBS News.

Which strikes me as being about as weak a gesture as on the old “Happy Days” show, when actor Ron Howard’s “Richie Cunningham” character would respond to any issue out outrage by saying he was going to, “send a letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal.”

NO MATTER WHAT complaints she tries making, there are bound to be some people for whom the label “The False Confession Capital” (courtesy of “60 Minutes”) will stick to Chicago and Cook County.

When combined with the stink that is emanating from Cook County courts concerning the death of a young man allegedly caused by a nephew to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Alvarez is coming across as someone who can only appeal to the “law and order” crowd who don’t care about the abuse of a person’s civil rights.

Following years of inaction in the 2004 incident, a special prosecutor had to be brought in from the outside (former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb) in order for any activity to occur in the courts.
TROTTER: A race to the bottom?

I find all of this interesting because I remember the impression she created among some people back in 2008 when she first got elected as state’s attorney.

SHE WAS THE breath of fresh air from a field of political hacks who ran for the office that year when Richard Devine decided it was time to retire.

She went through a Democratic primary with a half dozen candidates wishing to replace Devine in the post, and I still have in my collection of political memorabilia/junk a campaign card that portrays all of the candidates as playing card characters – going out of its way to trash everybody.

Except Alvarez, who apparently the publisher of the campaign card considered to be too insignificant to be included. Better to trash people like Howard Brookins and Tony Peraica!

So perhaps she won that primary based on the idea that all the other candidates were trashing each other so hard that she slipped under the radar. And she won a general election against then-Cook County Board member Peraica because he had the potential for such a surly personality that there were a number of people (including myself) who thought, “Anybody But Tony” when casting our ballots four years ago.

THOSE PEOPLE WHO were paying attention to Alvarez did include a few naysayers who claimed that her work in the state’s attorney’s office included nothing to indicate that she was qualified to be put in charge.

I’m sure those people who were screaming “Political Hack!” (and other harsher, more unprintable labels) toward Alvarez are now feeling self-satisfied with her fate.

Personally, I’m a little more concerned with where we go from here.

Many political people think Trotter’s career as an elected official will recover (even though Alvarez’ staff is talking about hauling Trotter’s case before a grand jury to get an indictment on assorted criminal charges), even if his chances of winning this particular special election may wither away in coming weeks. His performance before Democratic Party officials on Saturday in terms of seeking party slating for his campaign could give him a significant boost!

FOR ALVAREZ, IT might be harder – although she has the advantage of having just won re-election. She has four years to “shake off” the taint that she now carries.

Which means that Alvarez and Trotter could very well be in the running for the “comeback politico of the year” come the 2016 election cycle.


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