Broadview: Strip club influence?

Two issues have consumed politics in the near west suburb: the lingering fight over a proposed strip club and an intense battle to kick incumbents off the ballot.

Are those two issues related? It's a matter of debate — and an example of how it's difficult for voters to figure out if outside special interest groups are secretly trying to influence the race.

Current village officials oppose the strip club, and the club's backers have sued the village. This year, ballot challenges have targeted most incumbents.

At a recent town hall meeting, Mayor Sherman Jones' campaign manager, Matt Ames, alleged that strip club proponent David Donahue was behind the ballot challenges.

Jones' faction said it is familiar with the tactic. Back in 2009, Donahue's allies worked behind the scenes to help elect Jones. Ames told the Tribune that the help included a consultant who bragged about pushing ballot challenges to distract Jones' opponents.

Jones said he had no interest in helping Donahue, and his faction kept up the village's legal fight against the club. Now, Jones and his slate are the ones fighting to stay on the ballot, with a second round of court challenges that could last for weeks.

The challenges against incumbents were filed by a member of a new political faction, Jarry Shelby, who denies Donahue is involved. Donahue also denies it.

Any registered voter in the town can file an objection. Typically high-priced lawyers are hired to make the legal arguments to kick candidates off the ballot, but neither the lawyer nor the official objector is required to say who's paying the legal bills.

Even in cases where a rival candidate files an objection, such as in Broadview, gray areas in the law allow the candidate to wait to disclose help from outsiders until after the election, if at all.

Calumet City: Ignoring decisions

For the primary ballot, the city's electoral board — stocked with incumbents — voted to kick off a host of rivals over six missing words in a phrase involving a notary.

It didn't matter that the candidates had used forms downloaded from the state Board of Elections, which had left out the phrase.

Or that a Will County electoral board had once ruled a candidate couldn't be kicked off the ballot over the missing phrase.

The attorney who lost that case, Burt Odelson, had since become attorney for Calumet City's electoral board. He told the board that the Will County case he had lost was irrelevant. Electoral boards don't have to listen to other electoral boards, just judges. And although the Will County case was ruled on by circuit and appellate judges, none of those judges was asked to rule specifically on the notary language — just other issues in that case.

Turns out the Will County case was prophetic, after all. A Cook County judge ruled in favor of the Calumet City rivals. So did an appellate court.

But the political damage was done. The months of legal limbo left the rivals unable to focus solely on campaigning.

Of the nine rivals facing incumbents, all nine lost.

Cicero: Reform at a price