Friday, October 11, 2013

Political families in Chicago last longer than many of us are aware of

Frank Annunzio hasn’t been in Congress for more than two decades. Heck, he passed away 12 years ago.

Yet that doesn’t mean the Annunzio name is gone from the local political scene. Even if not in a prominent elected office, his descendants remained in place even after he was gone (voluntarily, he didn’t seek re-election in 1992 to the seat in Congress he held for 18 years).

WHICH IS WHY the Annunzio name is back in the news these days. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday about the lawsuit the City Council likely will settle this week.

One caused because of the alleged behavior on-the-job of Joseph Annunzio – who thinks of the one-time Northwest Side congressman as “Uncle Frank.”

Joseph was a city Transportation Department staffer (a supervisor, to be specific) who supposedly had a lousy temperament on the job – particularly when dealing with female co-workers.

According to the Sun-Times, Annunzio had slurs for women, black people and immigrants in general.

I DON’T FEEL the need to repeat his specific slurs – other than to say I have encountered people who, when they think they’re in private moments, are more than willing to express similar thoughts.

And may well be reacting to this commentary now by saying that we’re somehow letting “political correctness” run amok by censoring what this man is allowed to think.

Which is trite nonsense, of course. There is a degree to which people are entitled to some general respect from people they deal with on the job, or in other situations. It’s really just a matter of common courtesy. Of having some manners, so to speak.

ANNUNZIO: What would he think of nephew?
The fact that Joseph Annunzio himself once said in a newspaper interview that he used vulgarity to emphasize his point really comes across as someone who thinks that everybody around them has to take his abuse.

IT IS MORE a sign of having no class, and people engaging in such behavior really are best ignored.

Except when they can’t be, which is why several of the women who worked in the Transportation Department office felt the need to file a lawsuit, which the Sun-Times says will be settled on Friday when the City Council’s finance committee is expected to approve a $560,000 payment to the women.

The fact that the city will settle is to be expected. Officials probably figure that a $560,000 payment now is cheaper than the court costs that would be incurred if they fought the lawsuit to its conclusion.

Even if the ultimate verdict was favorable to the city, it would be costly. And money is something city officials would prefer not to spend, if they don’t have to.

AFTER ALL, MONEY spent fighting a lawsuit means less municipal funds on hand that can be used to pay for contracts to politically-connected businesses – which means less in the way of kickbacks (which doesn’t necessarily mean bribes) to the government officials.

But back to Joseph Annunzio, whom it seems goes around acting as though his Uncle Frank is still a political power-broker – rather than just a name from the past that many younger people probably wouldn’t recognize if they stumbled across it on an old billboard or leaflet that somehow has managed to survive the decades.

Of course, he no longer has that particular city job. He lost it as a result of the complaints, and his attempts to sue to get his job were unsuccessful. Which some might argue means he suffered a real punishment – unemployment stinks!

Personally, I’ve never met the younger Annunzio. I don’t have any ill-will toward him. Although I wish he could have found a more impressive way to keep the family name in the public eye.


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