Muddying the waters | Bleader

Friday, April 13, 2007

Muddying the waters

Posted By on 04.13.07 at 12:49 PM

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The thrust of challenger Scott Waguespack's recently filed $5 million defamation lawsuit against 32nd Ward alderman Ted Matlak has to do with accusations made against him in campaign flyers put out by the incumbent.

But the suit also charges Berwyn alderman Michael Phelan and defeated 32nd Ward challenger Catherine Zaryczny.

Billing herself as a reformer with deep ties to Ukrainian Village, Zaryczny initially ran hard at Matlak, criticizing him for, among other things, using campaign workers in the 2003 election sent to the ward by Donald Tomczak, who was convicted oftaking bribes in the hired truck scandal.

She was so persuasive that she won the endorsement of the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Workers organization.

The weekend before the February 27 election, Zaryczny turned her attack on Waguespack, sending out a glossy flyer calling him "a patronage hack who is not who he says he is," language similar to that in the Matlak brochures that sparked the suit.

In his lawsuit Waguespack makes the curious allegation that Zaryczny "employed" Paul Foxgrover to "gather, fund and disseminate defamatory information" about him.

And who is Paul Foxgrover? He's a former Cook County Circuit Court judge who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $25,000 in court fines and victim restitution funds in the early 90s."Paul Foxgrover did not sell justice, he only stole it," a prosecutor said at Foxgrover's sentencing, according to a 1992 Sun-Times account of his sentencing. Moreover, he "continued to steal money until a week before his arrest although he knew of the investigation." The judge was disbarred and sentenced to six years in prison.

Foxgrover is also the father of Laura Foxgrover, a name you may remember from one of the more sensational political stories of recent years. The Park District official in charge of concessions, Laura Foxgrover had a baby with Matthew O'Malley, the restaurateur who got a Park District contract to run the Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park. As Tim Novak of the Sun-Times reported in 2005, "The Chicago Park District awarded a 20-year lease to run the swanky restaurant at Millennium Park to a businessman who got a top Park District official pregnant during negotiations." Laura Foxgrover gave birth to O'Malley's child on September 24, 2002, the paper reported. The O'Malley Park Grill deal was signed February 11, 2003.

Waguespack alleges that Paul Foxgrover's connection to Zaryczny indicates that she was acting as Matlak's stalking horse, siphoning off votes from Waugespack. It was, Waugespack continues, no coincidence that a few days after the February 27 election, Zaryczny endorsed Matlak.

Hmm. It's pretty well-known in political circles that Paul Foxgrover has ties to local Democratic Party big shots, particularly in the 19th Ward. And restaurateur O'Malley has ties to former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, Matlak's political mentor. But what's the evidence that links Zaryczny to Paul Foxgrover? Waguespack's lawsuit doesn't say, nor has his campaign produced anything to support this claim. Is the Foxgrover allegation simply an attempt to smear Zaryczny?

Matlak's spokeswoman, Rebekah Brooks, says she knows nothing about Foxgrover. In fact, she says she never even heard of him until I called asking her for a comment.

Zaryczny did not return calls for comment. 

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