March 1, 2023

Chicago police officers can’t “rough-up” suspects anymore or even chase them. Forget about all those pat-down, in-your-face, creative expletive-laden stops.

Cops need to be nice. They need to be non-confrontational. They need to have the mentality of a social worker, not a SWAT team.

But the city’s 11,000 officers and 6,500 retirees do NOT want their Federation of Police (FOP) union president to be nice – especially not to the bunch of politicians who run Chicago.  And current FOP president John Catanzara has been especially “un-nice” during his 3-year term, which ends March 3.

Veteran CPD detective Bob Bartlett is contesting Catanzara for a new term, which will be 4 years and  pays $175,000.

Ballots from the month-long mail-in election will be counted on March 3. There are 16,500 FOP members, including 10,000 active CPD minus the brass above sergeant. The outcome will rest on generational and racial factors.

“Younger cops like Catanzara’s swagger, attitude and aggressiveness,” said retired CPD lieutenant Mike Byrne, “but not veteran cops and not Black cops.”

That may have changed. To be sure, every cop was happy with the new $700 million police contract, ratified in February of 2021, with its retroactive pay raises. But not all were happy with Catanzara’s boisterous support of Donald Trump and now Paul Vallas for mayor.

Many were unhappy that Catanzara bungled the Police District Councils situation, failing to file pro-police slates in 90 percent of the 22 districts. And most were unhappy that they didn’t get the 3 percent COLA pension hike that the state legislature voted for CFD but not CPD.

“They were punishing him (Catanzara) and thereby punished all cops,” said Bartlett, a 24-year vet formerly assigned to the CPD SWAT team. Under current law retirees born after 1966 get a 1.5 annual COLA hike based on their final salary, while those born before 1966 get a 3 percent hike.  The legislature changed that for firefighters, so every CFD retiree gets 3 percent, but not for CPD. “We need a (FOP) president who can work with” elected leaders, said Bartlett. Catanzara is an ex-patrolman who was accused in 2021 of falsifying police reports.

Catanzara promptly retired, mooting the issue, and elected to draw his full pension atop his $175,000 FOP stipend –so he’s making close to a quarter mil a year. One juicy perk is that the president gets to appoint 5 cops as FOP “field representatives,” a rather ambiguous job which pays $155,000.

The CPD is averaging 90 new recruits per month, but losing 150 to retirement, Bartlett said. Prediction: Catanzara wins narrowly.

STATE’S ATTORNEY: Democratic politicians are presuming that Kim Foxx is out-the-door after 2024, and will not seek re-election to a third term. She had just $24,618 cash-on-hand as of Dec. 31. That has not changed. If she did run, and had only one major (meaning White, pro-police) primary opponent, she would lose. That opponent would likely be retiring Appellate Court (AC) justice Eileen O’Neill Burke, who may announce this summer. With a perfect Irish name and gender, Burke was elected subcircuit judge in 2008 and to the AC in 2016. She’s got her 20 years with ASA credits, so her pension is maxed-out at 80 percent of $216,000 for life, plus benefits.

The primary is March 19. County Democrats’  pre-slating, which is basically a dog-and-pony show where aspirants present their credentials, is June 15-16 and actual slate-making, where the committeepersons “vote” to ratify already-made determinations is August 14-15. According to sources, Burke will by-pass slating.  Making the rounds is retiring alderman Howard Brookins (21st), who lost the 2008 CCSA primary (D), finishing fourth with 21 percent and a 2022 slated judgeship race with 41.4 percent. In the mix are ex-county commissioner Richard Boykin and some high-level CCSA prosecutor(s), such as first deputy or first assistant.

ASSOCIATE JUDGES: The best way to avoid the fuss, bother and cost of RUNNING for judge is to be APPOINTED judge. There are 240 elected county judges (ECJ), 75 having been elected countywide and 165 from the 15 subcircuits, plus 140 appointed associate judges (AJ), who earn $198,000, slightly less than the $216,000 paid to elected judges.

Technically, the AJs are elected by the 240 ECJs, who send their ballots to Springfield and the Illinois Supreme Court (ISC) appoints the winners to a 4-year term. Unlike ECJs, who face a retention election every 6 years, the AJs get retained by a vote of the ECJs. In fact there is an AJ election now in progress, with 44 lawyers seeking 22 vacancies. The ballots went out Feb. 24 and are due back by March 10.

There is some urgency to the AJ situation because a new state law, effective June 1, will start depleting the AJ pool by assigning the first 10 AJ vacancies per 2-year election cycle to the 20 subcircuits, which the law boosted from the current 15. At 10-per cycle, the AJs will be history by 2038, when every judge will be elected.

NEW SUB-CIRCUITS: Cook County’s population is 5,275,541, which means 352,000 per each of 15 subcircuits; with the new 20, it will shrink to a more compact 264,000. There are a max of 11 judges elected per subcircuit, so it will take a decade or more to seed the 5 new subcircuits with 55 judges.  The Northwest Side 10TH SUBCIRCUIT currently stretches from the 47th Ward (Ravenswood) westward through the 40th, 39th, 45th and 41st wards to Park Ridge and Des Plaines. Not anymore.

The remap lopped off both ends and moved the 10th northward to include Glenview, Niles, Skokie and Lincolnwood, now in the 12th. The 10th’s west end, including all of Des Plaines, was joined with north Park Ridge, Mount Prospect and Elk Grove Village in a new 18th subcircuit, and the east end went north into the 12th. The area’s 11TH SUBCIRCUIT added half the 41st Ward but kept south Park Ridge, the 38th Ward, Portage Park and Oak Park.

The 10th has two vacancies in 2024. Judge Gregory Wojkowski (elected in 1996) has already retired and Judge Clare McWilliams (elected in 2004) will retire this summer. A certain candidate – but wholly dependent on the March 10 vote, as she is on the AJ List -- is Jennifer Callahan, a private attorney who ran and lost for countywide judge in 2020 and was a 2022 slated alternate.

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT: Justice Anne Burke retired at the end of November and the two sitting 1st District (all of Cook County) justices elevated Joy Cunningham to the vacancy until 2024, when there will be an election for the 10-year term. The 7-member Court now has 3 Blacks, 4 Whites, 5 women and 2 men. “The next (vacancy) was supposed to go to a Latino,” complained ex-judge and Democratic strategist Gloria Chevere. And that was to be AC justice Jesse Reyes, who ran for a SC vacancy in 2020. Cunningham will be slated.

If Reyes takes a pass he’ll have to wait for Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis to retire, which will be awhile.

COUNTYWIDE JUDGES: The first judicial “reorganization” bill abolished the election of the 75  countywide judges and subsumed them over time into subcircuits.

That didn’t sit well with Senate President Don Harmon (D), who fancies himself as the new judgemaker, replacing Ed Burke.

There are currently 7 vacancies, probably up to 10 by late August, plus another 2-3 by the early December filing, which will be filled by slated “alternates.”  Slated candidates win 3/4ths of the time.

41ST/45TH WARD COMMITTEEPERSON (D): The 2021 council ward remap added a slice of Edgebrook/Wildwood north of Devon to Touhy between Lehigh and Central to the 45th Ward, including the residence of 41st Ward committeeperson (D) Joe Cook.

“I’m not moving,” Cook said, stating that he will likely run in his new ward, where alderman Jim Gardiner is committeeperson (D). “We get along,” said Cook of Gardiner.

There will certainly be a 2024 Woke/Leftist from Portage Park in the race, but the low-key, practical Cook would be less defeatable than the strident Gardiner.

That opens up the 41st Ward, where Edison Park attorney Paul Struebing, 2023 aldermanic candidate, will run.

There will be a candidate backed by Alderman Anthony Napolitano and the remnants of the McAuliffe/Doherty/Stephens organization. “There will be a pro-police candidate,” said Byrne, “probably a female cop.”  Cook in 2020 beat Napolitano-backed cop Bill Kilroy by 5,808-4,690.
Struebing will have the backing of Cook and of state Senator Rob Martwick (D-10), who is up for re-nomination in March 2024.

Read more Analysis & Opinion from Russ Stewart at

This column was published in Nadig Newspapers. If you, a friend or a colleague wish to be added to Russ's BUDDY LIST, and be emailed his column every Wednesday morning, email webmaster Joe Czech at