Two sets of rules | Bleader

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two sets of rules

Posted By on 01.18.07 at 03:57 PM

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Apparently, there are two sets of rules when it comes to election law in Chicago -- one for incumbents and one for everyone else. That's the lesson emerging from the board of elections tussle involving 25th Ward alderman Danny Solis, one of Mayor Daley's closest City Council allies.

In a nutshell, Anthony Sutor, a resident of the 25th Ward, asked the election board to strike Solis from the ballot on the grounds that the alderman's signature on three election-related documents did not match. Unlike most matters that come before the board, this is a serious charge, as Solis and a notary both swear he signed them.

Sutor produced the testimony of a handwriting expert who says the signatures are different. On January 11, the case came before board hearing officer Thaddeus Wilson, who happens to be the former law partner of 21st Ward alderman Howard Brookins.

Instead of considering the allegations, however, Wilson dismissed the case on the grounds that Sutor had not included his home address on his challenge.

But coincidentally Sutor had also asked the board to remove Solis from the ballot on the grounds that the alderman had incorrectly listed the office he was seeking on his economic disclosure statement. Instead of writing "alderman of the 25th Ward," Solis wrote "City of Chicago."

Wilson overruled that challenge, writing: "While a few more adjectives identifying [the] specific office may have been more desirable, any error appears to be inadvertent."

Well, duh, most procedural errors are (it's not as though Sutor omitted his address on purpose). The process of getting on the ballot to run for alderman is so convoluted it's easy to slip up. But that doesn't stop the board of elections from routinely bouncing challengers who are running against Daley-backed incumbents (just ask Chris Lawrence and Chris Persons up in the 48th Ward). "When people in power make their mistake, it's inadvertent," says Richard Means, an election law lawyer who's representing Sutor. "But when it's somebody who's challenging authority, they make him dot every I and cross every T."

Sutor may appeal to in Cook County circuit court. We'll keep you posted. 

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