Now is the time to speak

January 31, 2007

Chicago Journal

Matlak should come clean.

Our Views

The three-way race for alderman in the 32nd Ward is heating up with challengers accusing incumbent Alderman Ted Matlak of relying on patronage workers to win the 2003 city election.

Challenger Catherine Zaryczny of Ukrainian Village noted testimony in the trial of disgraced Daley patronage chief Robert Sorich, where convicted felon and former Deputy Water Department Commissioner Donald Tomczak identified Matlak as being the recipient of city workers for his campaign. Tomczak and Sorich were sent to jail for their misdeeds associated with the Hired Truck scandal and paying city workers to campaign for a variety of politicians. But the charges against Matlak-the smaller fish in the pond-were never pursued by federal prosecutors.

Scott Waguespack, another challenger from Bucktown, identified several individuals from the federal government’s “clout list” who worked as petition circulators for Matlak in this year’s campaign.

Zaryczny is calling on the alderman to repay the money the city paid workers and Waguespack has charged Matlak with resorting to the same patronage workers from 2003 to win this election.

Matlak’s response assumes a duck-and-cover strategy. His spokesman relayed a message from the alderman saying he would “never allow these things to occur.” The short two-line response shows that the alderman is not taking the accusations seriously and hopes the charges will blow over and be forgotten by Election Day.

If the allegations are false, Matlak should face them head on and explain himself. If they are true, then voters should seriously consider whether they want him to continue as alderman.