County State's Attorney Dick Devine is renowned
for his policy of being neither seen nor heard.
Unlike boisterous, politically ambitious,
headline-grabbing predecessors Ben Adamowski (1956
to 1960), Ed Hanrahan (1968 to 1972) and Jack
O'Malley (1990 to 1996), Devine is so unassuming,
unambitious and low-key as to be almost
knows his place and his role: His place is to be a
loyal cog in the Democratic political machine of
his mentor, Mayor Rich Daley, for whom he served
as first assistant state's attorney during Daley's
years in the post, from 1980 to 1989, and his role
is to watch the mayor's back, which means not
launching any investigations into "official
corruption" in city or county government.
44 convictions in the U.S. Attorney's Office's
Hired Truck Program probe, with the feds having
raided the County Building to seize personnel
records, and with dozens upon dozens of
revelations of nepotism, cronyism, favoritism and
sweetheart deals in county government, the obvious
question is: Why are Dick Devine and his cadre of
crime-busting prosecutors missing in action? Why
are they deferring to the feds?
excuse is that the focus of his office is on the
prosecution of street crime. But the focus of the
2008 campaign will be on the issue of off-street
crime, namely, malfeasance, misfeasance and
nonfeasance by elected public officials and their
family runs the entire operation," said
Republican county Commissioner Tony Peraica,
referring to Chicago and county government, and
specifically to the Daleys. "One family
controls the $6 billion spent by the city, the $3
billion spent by the county, the $1 billion spent
by the CTA and the $6 billion spent by the Board
seriously considering running (for state's
attorney)" in 2008, Peraica said. "It's
time to audit the books and throw out the crooks.
It's time for law and order, and for reform. And
it's time to get rid of Dick Devine," whom
Peraica called a "toady" for the Daley
according to political insiders, the so-called
toady may be poised to hit the roady. The
consensus is that Devine, age 63, first elected in
1996, will not seek a fourth term in 2008.
"He has not made any statement of
intention," said John Gorman, Devine's media
spokesman, who said that Devine will decide if
he's running "by late August." Asked to
provide a list of Devine's accomplishments during
12 years in office, Gorman faxed a sparse,
the 2008 primary moved up to Feb. 5, the first day
to begin circulating nominating petitions is Aug.
7, and the filing deadline is Nov. 7.
large field of Democrats are eyeing Devine's job,
including county Commissioners Mike Quigley and
Larry Suffredin, Aldermen Pat O'Connor (40th), Tom
Allen (38th) and Howard Brookins (21st), Sheriff
Tom Dart, county Treasurer Maria Pappas and first
assistant state's attorney Bob Milan. Quigley,
Suffredin and Brookins are self-proclaimed
"reformers" and critics of Rich Daley,
John Daley and Todd Stroger. Brookins is black,
and he would have the support of U.S.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.'s organization.
The longer Devine vacillates, the more convinced
his potential successors will become that another
"Sheahan Switcheroo" is afoot.
will be recalled that Mike Sheahan, who served as
sheriff for 16 years, announced his intention to
retire just 2 days before the November 2005
Democratic slate making and 2 weeks before the
filing deadline. He endorsed Dart, his chief of
staff and fellow 19th Ward Democrat, and Dart was
slated primarily because nobody else had time to
get a candidacy organized. Dart was nominated
because he faced desultory opposition.
could be deja vu in 2007, with a "Devine
Deception" delaying or discouraging
opposition. "The 19th Ward, the South Siders
and the Daley people all want Milan in the
job," said one well connected Democrat.
"But he is unknown and could never win a
primary. So watch Devine announce, circulate
petitions, file, and then withdraw on the last
day, and watch Milan file on the last day."
and political activist Frank Avila agrees:
"There are personal scandals, personnel
scandals and professional scandals" in the
office and attaching to Devine. "He had easy
races in 2000 and 2004. He won't have an easy race
in 2008. He'll quit."
a summary of key issues:
careful whom you prosecute (or fail to prosecute).
Back in 1996, Republican incumbent Jack O'Malley
was thought a cinch for re-election, and he was
being boomed as a candidate for governor in 1998.
O'Malley defeated appointed black incumbent Cecil
Partee in 1990 by 186,640 votes, with 53 percent
of the votes cast, and O'Connor in 1992 by 476,084
votes, getting 61.7 percent of the vote. Devine
was supposed to be a sure loser. However,
O'Malley's successful prosecution of U.S.
Representative Mel Reynolds for sexual misconduct
got him headlines but alienated black voters.
Also, he ran an inoffensive campaign, failing to
give independents and minorities a reason to vote
against Devine. In a year when Bill Clinton won
Cook County by 691,732 votes, O'Malley lost by
legal albatross is former Chicago police commander
Jon Burge, who was accused of allowing 148
suspects, almost all black, to be tortured in Area
2 and Area 3 lockups in the early 1980s. At the
time Daley was the state's attorney and Devine was
his top assistant. A report released in 2006
ripped then-police superintendent Richard Brzeczek
for "dereliction of duty" in not
investigating Burge, and attorney Flint Taylor,
whose People's Law Office has brought federal
civil suits for damages against the city, said
that "Daley and Devine are ultimately
culpable . . . What did they do? Nothing." Burge
was fired in 1993, but officers cannot be
criminally prosecuted, due to statutes of
a Democratic primary, the Burge issue could
estrange blacks from Devine. Gorman, however,
noted that Devine has brought charges against 125
police officers during his tenure.
careful whom you hire. For years and years, Teri
Sanchez was the most powerful bureaucrat in
Devine's office. She was the deputy chief of the
Administrative Services Bureau, allegedly
controlled the hiring of all non-attorneys, and
she directed vehicle assignment. But Sanchez got
her niece and niece's husband jobs, despite a
criminal history. When both were charged in 2006
in a shakedown scheme, Sanchez resigned. Devine's
relationship with Sanchez surely will be fodder in
the 2008 campaign.
credible. In 1997 Devine's office initiated an
investigation into the dealings of Alderman Ed
Burke and former alderman Patrick Huels. Nothing
resulted. In 2000 Devine launched an investigation
into alleged bogus overtime and mileage expenses
in the city Department of Streets and Sanitation,
with the Sun-Times calling it a "rare public
corruption investigation" by Devine's office.
If the 2008 primary and election are about
"corruption," Devine is vulnerable.
an early analysis:
easily won the 2004 primary, trouncing Tommy
Brewer, who is black, by 488,353-128,031, with
79.2 percent of the vote. That won't be the case
in 2008. Black voter turnout will be high, due to
Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, as will
Hispanic turnout, due to the 4th U.S. House
is sure to run. A Daley critic, he supported the
mayor in opposing the "big-box" living
wage ordinance, and he beat a pro-union challenger
in the April aldermanic runoff. With Jackson's
backing, he will get a sizable black vote --
probably around 300,000.
with his girth and beard, is the Falstaff of
county politics. He's also a shrewd political
operator. His base in Evanston and Skokie and the
support he receives from U.S. Representative Jan
Schakowsky's organization make Suffredin the
logical white "reform" candidate.
Quigley, however, with his base along the
Lakefront and among gays, aspires to the Cook
County Board presidency in 2010, and a 2008
countywide race would give him visibility. It also
would divide the white liberals, and both he and
Suffredin would lose.
who has been an alderman since 1983 and who is the
chairman of the City Council Education Committee,
wants a second crack at Devine's job. But he has
baggage, not the least of which is his "Vrdolyak
29" connection. "Pat's a great guy, but
he can't sell himself to black voters," said
one Northwest Side committeeman.
prediction: It takes 12,500 signatures to get on
the Democratic primary ballot, and Brookins,
Suffredin and Quigley are ready to go. If Devine
runs against just Suffredin and Brookins, he will
win. But if the field has five or more white
candidates, Brookins will win. If Devine is
replaced by O'Connor or Milan and Quigley doesn't
run, Suffredin will win. If Devine is replaced by
Dart, then Dart will win. If Daley decides to go
outside the box and pick Allen, he will win.
then there's that pesky Peraica. A Republican was
elected state's attorney in 1956, 1972, 1976, 1990
and 1992. If Democrats slice and dice themselves
and pick a weak nominee or a black nominee,
Peraica could win.