Mayor James Chmura has been accused of intimidating homeowners and campaign workers supporting the opposition, according to a police report
A couple of guys are driving campaign signs to one of their supporters. As they are driving, they notice a black car following them. But the car isn’t a police car – the driver seems to a mid-sixties-ish guy with shades on, who’s strangely familiar.
The campaign sign crew is installing signs for the Norridge First Party. But as they get out of their vehicle to place the stakes into the ground, the “shades” guy also gets out of the black car. What happens next will shock all involved.
The man demands to know who they are, and tells them it is “illegal” to place signs on private property.
But he’s not the owner of the property – so why is he involving himself in somebody else’s business?
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Norridge Improvement Party people are worried about losing the election (and possibly their jobs). Fear tends to make people act foolishly.
But what should shock everyone is – the man was Mayor James Chmura himself!
Is this a joke, or a made-up story? Not according to the sign crew of the Norridge First Party we interviewed. They correctly identified Chmura as the man who harassed them from photographs we provided, as well as the black car as Chmura’s Chevrolet Impala.
During the March 18 incident, Chmura quarreled with the homeowner about her support for Norridge First, and it escalated to the point where Chmura made physical contact with one of the campaign workers, who went to ask the homeowner if she wanted to take the sign down. Chmura was described as extremely agitated, and “shaking with rage”.
The homeowner was so intimidated by Chmura’s behavior that she asked that the sign be taken down to avoid any more trouble.
We were able to obtain a copy of the police report that was filed over the incident.
Several reports received about intimidation by Chmura and his people
Many are probably thinking, are we really going to believe a story told by some of Benigno’s people about the mayor he is trying to unseat? We’re naturally skeptical about such things… however, this isn’t the first report we’ve heard of Chmura personally trying to intimidate people into not supporting a candidate other than himself. Sometimes Chmura is alone, or with other people. There have been too many reports for this to be ignored.
Norridge Improvement Party people have been going door to door asking residents with Norridge First signs to take them down. The tactics are always the same: first a NIP underling asks why they have a sign up, what the Chmura regime has done wrong to deserve it, and requests the sign be taken down. Then, if the homeowner refuses, it’s “escalated” to a higher ranking Party member who asks the same questions, until, Chmura himself comes over, and repeats the line of questions. Swarm tactics.
In some cases we are told Village services are promised in exchange for “flipping” the sign to the Norridge Improvement Party, for example, using taxpayer funds to cut down a parkway tree that is healthy and the homeowner would otherwise have to pay for themselves.
Unprofessional behavior does not reflect the good people of Norridge
If in fact Chmura is going to people’s homes to demand they answer to him why they aren’t supporting him, intimidating residents into taking signs down or trying to prevent someone installing a sign they have permission to install, then he is abusing the power of his office. This goes way past the red line of acceptable behavior, even in politics.
For someone constantly railing about Chicago style politics and the Mike Madigan influence of his opponents, Chmura seems to have no problem practicing Chicago style bully politics himself.
Rather, he seems to be acting more like… the Mike Madigan of Norridge.
Perhaps James Chmura should ask himself this question: if you have done such a great job as mayor, then why are there so many signs up for the opposition?
Maybe people just like the other guy more, regardless of either of your policies or accomplishments (or lack thereof).
Mayor Chmura, if your 4 years as mayor have been been so beneficial to the good people of Norridge, then your accomplishments should stand on its own merits, and you will be easily re-elected.
But, if you are out there bullying and intimidating, then you must not be that confident in your own record.
We’re not sure exactly what Chmura was thinking, behaving this way in the age of cell phone cameras and the internet, where news gets out in the blink of an eye.
Is it the arrogant belief that the voters will re-elect him no matter what, and he can get away with anything?
Guess we’ll find out on April 4.
We received the following statement from Peter Fontanetta of the Norridge First Party:
I wasn’t totally surprised. I have heard of people being asked to take down signs for a long time. I tell people that it’s OK to take down signs if that is what they want.
I was very disappointed. When I heard who the individual was, I couldn’t believe it was the mayor of our Village doing this.
This is what they are resorting to, intimidating residents over a sign. And then they wonder why residents don’t want to get involved and why they don’t want to vote?
We had permission to put up that sign. Our sign guys did the right thing.
I have been a resident for 22 years, and have been involved in Village government. I think it’s highly unprofessional to be doing this over a sign.
Peter Fontanetta, Norridge First Party candidate for Village Trustee