Bill Miceli hopes that voters in the 15th Illinois
House District recognize the difference between
political royalty and what he sees as a political
travesty. "Nobody has a right to any public
office by imperial birthright," Miceli said,
referring to Democratic opponent John D'Amico.
age 41, the grandson of the late Alderman Tony
Laurino (39th) and the nephew of Alderman Marge
Laurino (39th) and of former state representative
Bill Laurino, represents the next generation of
the "Laurino Clan" to engage in the
family business -- politics. D'Amico, a district
foreman for the city Department of Water
Management, is seeking an open seat in a district
which is anchored on the 39th Ward.
is a chronic campaigner with no credibility,"
said Randy Barnette, Marge Laurino's husband, who
is the 39th Ward Democratic committeeman.
"He's lost (for other offices) so many times
I can't keep count." Replies Miceli:
"Members of the Laurino family and their
precinct captains have been indicted so many times
that I can't keep count."
hopes that voters have long memories and that they
will recall that Tony Laurino, who died before
going on trial, was charged in federal court with
bilking Chicago taxpayers out of $1.8 million by
putting 36 "ghost payrollers" on his
City Council Traffic Committee payroll. Among
those "ghosts" were the alderman's wife,
stepdaughter, daughter and son-in-law. The latter
two are D'Amico's parents. "They made a
mistake, and they paid the price," D'Amico
said. "They are not and should not be an
issue in this campaign."
Miceli, an administrator at the Chicago Public
Schools central office, lost a 2002 race for state
representative (getting 31.9 percent of the vote),
as well as past contests for state senator and
county school superintendent. He said that he is
running against the "culture of
corruption" which permeates the area. Miceli
accused D'Amico of being "a chip off the old
Laurino block," noting "Hired
Truck" press reports that seven water
department workers were suspended when their crew
foreman falsified their pay sheets last year. The
trucks were not needed at a West Side job site.
D'Amico was their supervisor, and he supposedly
should have known that the trucks weren't needed,
but he said that he was on a different job site.
He was not disciplined.
the charges of chronic "corruption" or
chronic candidacies, clear differences exist
between the candidates. Miceli is pro-life, while
D'Amico is pro-choice, even on the issue of
partial-birth abortions. "He is violating his
Catholic faith," Miceli said.
supports the right to carry concealed weapons
under the Second Amendment; D'Amico, who says he
is a sportsman, opposes any right to carry a
handgun. Miceli is opposed to "any state tax
increase," while D'Amico said he is
"very interested" in the possibilities
of a plan to "swap" tax burdens by
increasing the state income tax and concomitantly
reducing property taxes. That idea was proposed by
Democrat Dawn Clark Netsch in 1994 and entertained
by Governor Jim Edgar in 1997, but it went
nowhere. "We're taxing out senior citizens
out of their homes," D'Amico said. "It's
time to explore new remedies." However,
D'Amico stopped short of endorsing a state tax
on the issue of double dipping -- the practice of
holding two public jobs simultaneously -- D'Amico
has not yet made a decision. "I could keep my
job (with the city) and still serve in
Springfield," he said. "But I don't know
if that's feasible."
Laurino was a district superintendent for the city
Department of Streets and Sanitation for most of
his 26-year tenure in the House (1971-96). That
tradition continues on the Northwest Side: In the
19th House District, Democrat Joe Lyons is
director of manpower and training for the Cook
County Board, in the 40th House District, Democrat
Rich Bradley is an assistant general
superintendent at Streets and Sanitation, and in
the 15th House District, Democrat Ralph Capparelli,
who is running for re-election in the 20th
District, was a longtime aide at the former Board
of Tax Appeals (now the Board of Review). State
legislators do not get paid for their city or
county job when they are in Springfield.
about Miceli?" Barnette asked. "Is he
going to quit his job?" Retorts Miceli:
said that he has been endorsed by the Chicago
Teachers Union and that he wants to increase
funding for education. "Their union wouldn't
even endorse one of their own," he said.
supports the importation of pharmaceutical drugs
from Canada, and he backs an expansion of O'Hare
Airport's flight capacity, including runway
reconfiguration. "That (airport expansion)
could create up to 185,000 jobs in the area,"
he said. He opposes the issuance of any additional
casino licenses, and he said that Illinois
"cannot base its budget on gambling
promises to be independent of Mike Madigan's.
"(D'Amico) will vote as he's told (by Madigan),"
he said. "I will vote for what's best for the
the biggest difference is simply political. The
15th District is a Democratic-leaning district,
and D'Amico is a Democrat. The Republican base
vote is somewhere around 40 percent, which means
that a credible, well funded Republican could
conceivably beat a flawed, under-funded Democrat.
That, however, won't happen in 2004, as Miceli
lacks the funding to transform D'Amico into a
part of an intricate political arrangement,
Capparelli, the House's deputy majority leader and
the 41st Ward Democratic committeeman, opted to
run in the newly created 15th District in 2002,
even though his home was in the 20th District.
Capparelli, who was first elected to the House in
1970, the same year as Bill Laurino, decided not
to run in the 20th District in order to clear the
way for his political ally and buddy, Bob
Bugielski, to move into the district. Bugielski,
however, ran an inept campaign and was defeated by
Republican incumbent Mike McAuliffe. Subsequently,
Capparelli refused to move from Edison Park into
the 15th District, so to keep his job he must run
against McAuliffe this year, leaving the 15th
District seat open.
15th District extends from Glenview Road and
Shermer in the north to Addison and Kostner in the
south. It takes in most of the 39th Ward (40 of 47
precincts), parts of the 40th (10 precincts), 45th
(seven precincts) and 50th (three precincts)
wards, plus a couple of precincts in the 41st and
38th wards. It also includes 25 precincts in Niles
Township (Morton Grove, Niles, Skokie and
Lincolnwood) and 15 precincts in Maine Township
(Niles and Glenview).
the 2004 primary, D'Amico faced credible
competition from attorney Dennis Fleming, winning
12,663-8,531 and getting 59.7 percent of the vote.
D'Amico's 3,725-1,653 margin (69.3 percent) in his
39th Ward base was critical. D'Amico also carried
all the suburban precincts. How did he win? Like
McAuliffe when he defeated Bugielski, D'Amico is a
campaigning animal, spending hours walking
precincts. He also, with the aid of Barnette,
raised and spent more than $100,000.
2002 Capparelli trounced Miceli 19,718-9,249 (with
68.1 percent of the vote), but, as D'Amico
demonstrated in this year's primary, he is no
Capparelli. The D'Amico name is largely unknown,
and he does have his family's baggage. However,
back in 2001, Madigan and his aides drew the
Illinois House districts so as to be anchored by
specific geographic areas. For example, Joe Lyons'
19th District is anchored by his 45th Ward base,
the 20th District is anchored by both the 41st and
36th wards, and the 15th District is anchored by
the 39th Ward. That means D'Amico will win the
election if he comfortably carries the 39th Ward.
will win (the 39th Ward) by over 60 percent,"
predicted Barnette, who expects that Democratic
U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama will win
overwhelmingly but that the Bush-Kerry
presidential race will be close. D'Amico's
election budget is $50,000, and Miceli, who
doesn't have the capacity to run a self-funded
campaign, will be lucky to raise $10,000.
prediction: Miceli will do better in 2004 than he
did in 2002, and he will break 40 percent. But
Republicans in Springfield long ago wrote off the
15th District as unwinnable, and Miceli's
candidacy has been ignored. An infusion of $75,000
for anti-D'Amico mailings stressing his parents'
problems or the "imperial birthright"
issue could have been effective. But that's just
speculation, and D'Amico will win with 57 percent
of the vote -- and likely will serve as many years
as his uncle Bill. Primogeniture is alive and
functional in the 39th ward and the 15th House
House District: Joe Lyons, first elected in 1996,
replacing Bill Laurino in the old 15th District,
was supposed to face a well funded 2004 onslaught
by Roman Wiewiora, a wealthy Polish-born
businessman. The 19th District extends from
Devon-Nagle to Roscoe-Kostner, and it contains a
sizable Polish immigrant population. Wiewiora's
game plan was to launch an intensive registration
program to get those Poles on the voter rolls and
to appeal to ethnic pride in his campaign against
Lyons. But Wiewiora has been invisible since the
prediction: Lyons was unopposed in 2002, and he
will win easily in 2004. But the size of
Wiewiora's vote will be closely scrutinized. If
it's under 30 percent, then the district's ethnic
population is politically somnolent and not about
to awaken any time soon, but if it's close to 40
percent, even after Wiewiora's non-campaign, then
a credible Polish-American candidate will
challenge Lyons in 2006, in both the primary and