Tannhauser’s party paid for objector’s attorney

Campaign finance report shows Norridge Improvement Party paid Scott Erdman, Straughn’s attorney

Details are coming to light over the objections filed by Michael Straughan against myself (Adam Chudzik), Anna Mitera, Andrew Kopinski, and the term limits petitions.

Some of those details including who is actually funding the objection. More specifically, who paid for the attorney used by Straughn.

Scott Erdman was paid by the Norridge Improvement Party

Straughn has not attended any of the hearings thus far, instead being represented by Chicago attorney Scott Erdman. Ostensibly, Erdman is working for Straughn.

However, a campaign finance report filed by the Norridge Improvement Party (NIP) for the fourth quarter of 2020 shows the NIP’s political action commitee sent a $3,500 payment to Erdman on December 21.

The payment was made mere days after the three candidates filed their nomination papers.

A week later, on December 29th, the last day objections could be submitted, Straughn filed the four objections.

The Norridge Improvement Party’s previous attorney was Richard Means, who died on December 18th from COVID-19.

According to committee information for the NIP on the Illinois State Board of Elections website, Daniel Tannhauser is the chairperson of the Norridge Improvement Party, with Jack Bielak, the treasurer.

Tannhauser was appointed to the position of Norridge’s Village President in July of 2019. Jack Bielak was elected in 2019 as a Norridge Village Trustee.

Bias and conflict of interest

The big issue here: Tannhauser is also the chairperson of the electoral board hearing the objections!

The other members of the Norridge electoral board are also Norridge Improvement Party members – Jackie Gregorio, and Ursula Kucharski.

Tannhauser, Gregorio and Kucharski have all funded their party’s political action committee through campaign contributions.

It’s clear Straughn is just a proxy. The real objector behind the scenes appears to be Daniel Tannhauser, and his masters in the Chicago 38th ward.

I have been a vocal opponent of the 38th ward takeover of Norridge and more specifically, Tannhauser’s patron Robert Martwick, a close ally of Mike Madigan.

This payment to Erdman by the Norridge Improvement Party ties it all together.

Clearly, the judges, including and especially Tannhauser, have clear and present bias, and a conflict of interest. It’s also highly unethical behavior on their part.

At a subsequent hearing, Tannhauser had the arrogance to state he didn’t make any payments to Scott Erdman.

Clearly Tannhauser was stung by the payment revelation, and his statement was an attempt at damage control.

But the proof is all there to see, and no denials will make this issue go away.

None of us can possibly get a fair hearing when the judges are all Norridge Improvement Party, and are funding the objector’s attorney.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge

 


Objections filed against independent trustees, referendum

Michael Straughn files objections against trustee candidates Chudzik, Mitera, and Kopinski, plus the term limits referendum

Straughn’s attorney, Scott Erdman, claimed improper binding of the petitions as a justification for the objection against trustee candidates Adam Chudzik, Anna Mitera,¬† and Andrew Kopinski, as well as the term limits referendum.

Straughn’s objections are being heard by the Norridge electoral board

Straughn also objected to the wording of the referendum, claiming it was confusing to voters.

Zoom meetings were held January 5th for the trustees and referendum by the Norridge Municipal Officers Electoral Board.

The electoral board for the trustee candidates consists of current appointed Village President Daniel Tannhauser, Village Trustee Jackie Gregorio, and Village Trustee Ursula Kucharski.

Village Clerk Debra Budnik recused herself as she is currently running for Village Trustee on the Norridge Improvement Party slate.

The electoral board for the referendum consists of members from outside Norridge. Outsiders were chosen due to a conflict of interest.

On January 8th, Frank Avila, attorney for the all three candidates, as well as the referendum proponents, filed a preliminary motion to dismiss both objections against the term limits petitions.

Avila’s motion cited recent court cases in which the binding requirement was relaxed.

Avila also provided evidence of a term limits referendum using identical text that was submitted to the ballot in another Cook County municipality, earning 84% YES votes of the 2,874 voters participating.

At an hearing January 12th via Zoom, testimony was heard from witnesses. As of this writing no recording of the meeting has been published.

A follow up hearing for the trustees objection is scheduled for Friday, January 15th, where the board members may issue their final decisions.

Chudzik, Mitera, and Kopinski submitted paperwork to run for trustee in April as independents with no party or slate affiliation.

If they survive the objections, they will appear on the April 6 ballot opposite the three Norridge Improvement Party trustees who win the Feb 23 primary election.

Michael Straughn is currently the Vice President of the District 234 school board, and a Village of Norridge zoning board member.

Straughn has sought re-election for the District 234 board, and is running unopposed in the April 2021 local election.

All members of the Norridge Municipal Officers Electoral Board are Norridge Improvement Party members.

Daniel Tannhauser is seeking election in April 2021 for the office of Norridge’s Village president, where he is being challenged by Tom Benigno.


Only four candidates file for eight D79, D80 board positions

Districts 79 and 80 are both short two candidates, creating opportunity for write-in candidates

For the District 80 board of education, current board members Renzo Berardi and Maria Lala have filed for two of District 80’s four open board positions.

Tim Ludston, elected in 2017 as a write-in, and Pasquale Biondo, re-elected in 2017, did not file to appear on the ballot as of the December 21 2020 deadline.

At District 79, David Tarjan and Shiela Wachholder, both incumbents, submitted paperwork for re-election.

Current board president Michael Malusa, on the board since 1993, and board member Michael Beckman, did not file for re-election.

Write-in

The lack of candidates to fill the available seats presents an opportunity for write-in candidates to secure a seat on these elected boards without having to collect the 50 minimum signatures required to be on the ballot.

In Cook County, write-in candidates must submit forms to the Cook County Clerk for votes to be counted.

To become a write-in candidate, one must file a notarized Declaration of Intent and Statement of Economic Interest with the County Clerk’s office.

The deadline to submit the forms is February 4 2021.

If enough write-ins do not file, the boards of education for each district will fill the vacancies by appointment, which are effective until the next scheduled election.


Norridge Improvement Party walking streets with Chicago workers

Mike Madigan’s 38th Ward Democratic Organization continues to interfere in Norridge elections

Outsiders brought in to prop up Frank Avino ahead of NIP primary election

Does the “Norridge” Improvement Party (NIP) actually have any campaign workers… who live in Norridge?

And of those few, how many aren’t Village employees on taxpayer dime? Or local politicians themselves?

Even fewer it seems. And none of them, apparently, are willing to campaign for Frank Avino.

Residents have been reporting Avino and his entourage canvassing neighborhoods for the past 5 weeks or so.

A closer look at some of the people walking with Avino shows they are not Norridge residents.

Frank Avino out walking with…

One guy in particular, is someone who has been walking through our Village for the past two years like he owns it: David M Feller.

Feller is the Chicago 38th Ward boss of Mike Madigan’s Democratic Organization.

… Madigan’s Democratic Organization 38th Ward boss David Feller.

Frank Avino himself is the nominal head of the Norwood Park Township Democratic Organization, effectively an extension of the 38th Ward Dem Org.

Both are controlled by 38th Ward Democratic Committeeman (and IL state senator) Robert Martwick… who’s strings are, in turn, pulled by Boss Madigan.

We have previously warned of the Chicago 38th Ward Democratic Organization’s involvement in Norridge politics.

Two years ago, they managed to get two of their people installed on the Norridge Village Board – Jack Bielak and Bill Larson – after getting their opponents effectively thrown off the ballot.

Madigan’s Democratic Organization took advantage of additional uncontested races in 2019 to get more of their people placed on the Norwood Park fire board and Eisenhower Public Library board.

Feller and Avino’s canvassing of neighborhoods this early reveals concern over a primary challenge by Danny Donnelly.

Norridge Primary Election

Three trustees initially filed to run under the Norridge Improvement Party banner: Frank Avino, Debbie Budnik, and Andrew Ronstadt.

Later, Danny Donnelly also filed as NIP. As there are four NIP candidates competing for three seats, a primary election will be held Feb 23.

Primaries are a rare event in Norridge, as the “Norridge Improvement Party” would change its party slate name to avoid competition for their “preferred” candidates; a previous NIP alias was “Village Economy Party”.

Danny Donnelly is running in the Norridge primary Feb 23

Some critics have said Donnelly isn’t actually a Norridge Improvement Party member, and shouldn’t be contesting the NIP slate.

Donnelly, however, pointed to a key NIP endorsement in 2018 when he ran for Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman.

“[Then NIP mayor] James Chmura endorsed me for committeeman in 2018 at a Norridge Improvement Party fundraiser”, Donnelly said.

“I also attended the NIP golf outing fundraiser in 2019”, Donnelly added.

The Feb 23 primary is a rematch of sorts for Donnelly vs Avino, given Avino was also his opponent for the Committeeman race.

Donnelly is a member of the political action group Citizens in Action for Better Government.

“CIA”, as they’re known, has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates, and is supporting Tom Benigno’s 2021 independent run for Norridge Village President.

When asked to comment about Madigan Democrats coming in to canvass neighborhoods for Avino, Donnelly said the NIP used to be about keeping out Chicago politics from Norridge.

“The NIP has always said they are going to keep the Chicago politics out, and they are now bringing them in, full force,” Donnelly said.

Sending the 38th ward boss Feller to walk Norridge streets seems to indicate Norridge’s importance to Martwick, his former hometown.

In the November 2020 general election, Martwick did very poorly in Norridge, losing 8 of Norridge’s 9 precincts, with the single precinct he won bested by a mere nine votes.

Donnelly seemed to think Martwick’s Norridge performance in 2020 was due to a lack of engagement by Martwick in the community.

“If Martwick cared about Norridge, he’d still live here”, Donnelly said.

Watch out for strangers

In September, appointee-Village President Daniel Tannhauser sent out a robocall where he “warned” residents about calling police on people they don’t recognize knocking on their¬† door.

What he seems to have failed to take into account, however… was that the strangers he was talking about… are from his own party – the Chicago Democratic Party.

The question is: are Norridge voters going to fall for it?

Next time a “Norridge” Improvement Party campaigner comes to your door stumping for Avino or Tannhauser, and if you’re curious to know where they call home, ask them to produce a photo ID showing a Norridge address.

If they refuse… you’ll have your answer.


Petitions submitted for Norridge Village term limits

Referendum will ask voters if they want limits on number of back-to-back terms for Village President and Village Trustee offices

In late 2019 I launched an initiative to place term limits on the ballot.

The original plan was for the question to appear on the ballot for one of the high-turnout elections in 2020. However, due to events beyond my control, the effort had to be put on hold.

In late Summer 2020, we re-launched the term limits referendum signature collection drive, this time for the April 2021 local general election.

Norridge Village term limits

The ballot question will ask voters if candidates should be barred from re-election if having previously served multiple, full consecutive terms in that office: 2 terms for Village President, or 3 terms for Village Trustee.

A full term is 4 years. The limits would apply for any full terms served starting in 2021, and are not retroactive against previous terms.

The first step, collecting the required number of valid signatures, and submitting them to the Village Clerk, has been completed. The next, is surviving any legal challenges.

The binding referendum will appear on the ballot April 6, provided there are no prevailing objections, or other “dirty tricks” the current Norridge government may employ.

Norridge Improvement Party dirty tricks

Of course, it wouldn’t be the “Norridge Improvement Party” if they didn’t already launch dirty tricks to get the term limits referendum kicked off the ballot. It’s called the “three referenda” trick.

Election law says you can only have a maximum of three referendums on a given ballot.

So what’s a NIP politician to do if they lack the confidence to defeat a term limits referendum they despise? Place nonsensical advisory referendums on the ballot first, in order to try to get the referendum they don’t want kicked off.

During the 12/9/20 online-only Village board meeting, Village politicians rubber stamped three advisory referendums pertaining to marijuana sales, gambling, and a limit on the number of gas stations, to appear on the April election ballot.

However, the voter-initiated term limits referendum was submitted Wednesday morning. We got there first.

Andrew Kopinski, a supporter of the term limits referendum, submitted a comment to the Village board for Wednesday’s meeting, questioning why the three nonbinding referendums were being voted on now.

Bielak responded to Kopinski’s comments, saying these were “critical issues” facing the community.

Bielak’s explanation falls short however, when you consider the Village Board had every opportunity to easily submit these questions in the summer, for the high-turnout November presidential election that took place just a few weeks ago.

The timing seems a clear attempt to push our referendum off the ballot.

Asked for comment on Bielak’s response, Kopinski said “It is disappointing that there was not a direct answer to my comments”.

“The registered voters of Norridge have a right to know why the resolutions are only Advisory and not legally Binding.” Kopinski added.

Support for term limits

The feedback we received for limits on the number of years Norridge politicians can serve at one time has been overwhelmingly positive. Nobody can understand why the same politicians need to be in office for 20 or more years.

Or why one specific trustee has been in office for 39 years. Or why any post-Joe Sieb Village President should be in office “for life“. Many couldn’t believe there aren’t any limits now.

We found few who would disagree on the need for a regular influx of new people and new ideas governing our community.

Of those who did disagree with the concept of term limits, most supported voters’ right to choose a YES or a NO.

In a Village with over 9,500 registered voters, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that our politicians take a break from elected office every 8 to 12 years.

I want to extend my thanks to everyone who turned this petition from an idea, to reality. It would not have happened without you.

The Norridge Improvement Party will have to make the case in the court of public opinion whether dubious, non-binding referenda voted on by a handful of their politicians, should have precedence over a voter-initiative referendum signed by hundreds of voters.

Based on their behavior thus far, I would be surprised if they didn’t make the wrong decision.

Future updates on term limits can be found here, or on my Facebook page Facebook.com/ChudzikForNorridge.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge