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Chicago politics will never change: Where’s Eliot Ness when you need him?
by David Farside
Aug 25, 2008 | 696 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week’s news reminded me of something my old boss, Norman Gubler, told me 40 years ago. Norman was an honest, hard-working man, an elder in the Mormon church and a millionaire.

As a young man from humble beginnings, he started hauling produce in Utah between St. George, Cedar City and Salt Lake City. Gradually, he started picking up and delivering general commodity freight and built a great business. Later, Milne Truck Lines bought his route, business and expertise in transportation.

Norman hired me in 1959. Las Vegas was a tough place to get a job and I kept hounding him until he finally gave me one. Although he was wealthy, he always came in every morning at 4:30 and together we waited for the freight to come in from Los Angeles.

During that time, he spent many hours trying to convert me to Mormonism, something I almost considered. We also had some great conversations.

One morning, I asked him how it felt to be a millionaire and how much money qualifies a person to be considered rich. At 23, I wanted to know how high I had to set my unachievable goals. He laughed and, with a big broad smile said, “You know you’re rich when you can’t keep track of everything you own and when there is not enough hours in a day to count your money.”

Last week, Sen. John McCain demonstrated the extent of his wealth when he couldn’t remember how many houses he had.

In an interview with Politico, McCain was asked how many houses he had. He stuttered and stammered and referred the question to his campaign staff. It turned out he and his wife own seven residential properties. He probably couldn’t remember which ones were his.

Later , in a forum with Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, McCain was asked to define the word “rich.” McCain, who seems to have inherited Bush’s snide and silly smirk on his face, said, “I think if you are just talking about income, how about $5 million?”

Before the audience was through laughing, McCain said he was sure his comment would be distorted, but his point was that he wants to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenue. I have to ask though, does that only apply to those who make over $5 million annually? Probably.

Sen. Barack Obama, when asked the same question, said those making $250,000 or more per year are in the top 4 percent and seem to be “doing well.”

In all fairness, McCain’s wife, Cindy, is the one with the money. The senator’s tax returns show he had an income of $406,409 last year. His wife had an income of more than $6 million in 2006 and her total wealth figures to be more than $100 million. Now that is rich.

But Obama can’t criticize McCain for having money. In 2007, Obama and his wife reported an income of about $4.2 million. That’s not exactly poor.

Obama’s comments on McCain not remembering how many houses he owns opened him up for attacks by the Republicans. The Republican National Committee reminded the voters of Obama’s dealing with a friend and convicted felon from Chicago.

In 2005, Obama bought a house in Chicago for $1.6 million. He received a lot of advice from a local named “Tony” Rezko. Why all the bad guys have the name Tony, I’ll never know. Rekzo was a work of art.

Rezko is a political fundraiser for Obama and a land developer in Chicago. In 2005, Obama and Rezko purchased adjoining parcels in Kenwood. Obama paid $1.65 million for a Georgian revival mansion. Rezko paid $625,000 – almost half – just for the adjacent undeveloped lot. Both Rezko and Obama closed on their properties on the same day.

Last January, Obama claimed he wanted to increase the size of his mansion’s side yard. He paid Rezko $104,500 for a small strip of land. Local Chicago newspapers claimed Obama paid twice the appraised value of the narrow piece of land and questioned Obama on his generous gift to a man being investigated for fraud. Obama answered, “It was simply not good enough that I paid above appraised value for the strip of land he sold me. It was a mistake...” I guess it was. Last month, Rezko was indicted for an alleged political fundraising scheme and bilking a creditor out of his money.

Chicago has been the Democrats’ springboard to the White House in the past. Frank Sinatra and the “Chicago Boys Club,” comprised of more than a few Tony’s, was a key in getting John F. Kennedy elected to the White House. I’m sure they will do the same for Obama. Looks like Chicago politics will never change. Where’s Eliot Ness when you need him?

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at His Web site is
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