While I tried to attend Saturday's meeting at the Chicago Heights Country Club (I was told I could not enter, and then told that I'd have to leave the parking ), called by mayoral candidate Dave Gonzalez who mandated that all city employees attend or "face the consequences," I have gotten word back on some details.
City employees have been instructed to turn in contact sheets of 40 names by Friday. A vague threat was made about not turning them in, but Gonzalez is clearly trying to stay under the radar of the U.S. Attorney General's Public Integrity Section of its Criminal Division.
City Employees were told that they would be responsible for getting the names of their contact lists to the polls for Gonzalez, with a goal of perhaps half those names voting either by absentee or early vote.
Several Chicago Heights employees have complained to me about the stressful conditions they now work under. Gonzalez has placed apologists throughout the departments, and workers thought to be independent or non-partisan have received extra attention.
Again, it is illegal to condition employment at Chicago Heights' city hall upon political work for any candidate or party. It is interesting to me that while the County is moving away from openly violating Shakman, and I'd expect the city of Chicago to be less resistant to Shakman under a new mayor and city council, the South Suburbs is belatedly falling into a gray area -- openly violating Shakman and Rutan, but trying to obfuscate those violations. I'm not sure how the city -- well, the taxpayers -- of Chicago Heights can afford these corrupt practices, but until people stand up against the corruption, their tax bills will only get higher and higher.
If you are a Chicago Heights employee (or the employee of any city) who felt intimidated or forced to participate against your will, please call the Public Integrity Section at (202) 514-1412. You won't have to give your full name to express your concerns. They are eager to hear from you. I will follow up on this on Saturday, and afterwards...