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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

M06, nominating petitions [4th Sen]

James T. Smith invited me to inspect some nominating petitions filed by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who will be his opponent in the Democratic Primary.

I inspected six sheets. I expected 40-60% of the sigs to be questionable. People print names which is verboten. They aren't registered but sign anyway. Whatever. Lightford's petitions were horrid. Of the six pages I inspected (25 sigs per page) they averaged less than 4 unchallenged sigs per page.

Many of the signatures were clearly fake. The person that puts an extra hump in the letter "M" kinda telegraphs her/his work when s/he writes "Maywood".

Many of the addresses did not correspond to homes where voters were registered. Some petition signers misspelled their names.

Can Smith knock Lightford off the ballot? If the whole game was in Proviso, I'd say he has a 35-55% chance. But some of the petitions are in Chicago. This is a problem in two ways.

1. Alderman Carothers' organization circulated most of these petitions. Some people may not like Carothers' style of politics, but he's technical competent at the game of politics. I'd be surprised if his organization turned-in dog meat nominating petitions.
2. The process for checking signatures is easier for suburban Cook County which falls under the cognizance of the County Clerk. Checking Chicago signatures falls under the cognizance of the Chicago Board of Elections.

To knock Lightford off the ballot, Smith needs more bodies to check signatures. It's time consuming work. And it may not lead to getting Lightford off the ballot.

But even if Lightford can't be knocked off the ballot, there might be a story here. Why would a citizen risk criminal prosecution by forging signatures? If these are government employees, it seems possible that somebody is pressuring them to get signatures.

Pressuring individuals to do political work as a condition of continued employment is illegal, right? So who is pressuring people to circulate nominating petitions?

If the State's Attorney has time to prosecute Ken Leggin for taking yard signs--a rather harmless political activity--maybe Dick Devine's crew could find the time to prosecute real political crime, like coercing public employees to do political work. But maybe the people committing the bigger crimes are political allies of Devine?

For background on the Leggin prosecution see Maywood Herald (John Huston):
Misdemeanor charges against a former candidate for the Proviso Township District 209 School Board have been dropped.

Ken Leggin was charged in February with endangering the life of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child after he was arrested by Memorial Park District police for allegedly stealing political yard signs.

Give Smith a call at (708) 819-0905 if you want to help knock Lightford off the ballot.


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