KASS: Democrat, Republican — Bill Cellini can play them all

 

Illinois Republicans are often easy to forget, what with the Democrats holding all the key offices, from City Hall West (121 N. LaSalle St.) to City Hall East (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.).

 

Political historians would tell you that all that power didn’t come from magic spells. It came from big-city Democratic Party patronage armies.

 

Historians might also tell you that armies travel best on roads.

 

And in Illinois, for decade upon decade upon decade, all the roads have led to Bill Cellini, the low-key multimillionaire boss hog Republican. Chieftain of the road builders, Cellini was at the heart of the bipartisan Illinois Combine.

 

Cellini made his fortune through his political connections, working with Republican governors on questionable inside deals from gambling casinos to real estate, all of it from his power base in Springfield. But it’s what he allegedly did with Democrat and convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich that finally landed Cellini in a federal indictment.

 

On Oct. 3, Cellini will stand trial in federal court in Chicago. If you’re there you’ll see a little guy in his late 70s in a dark suit, unassuming, a thin man wearing a Julius Caesar-style haircut.

 

And if you’re interested in how Illinois politics works — not the speeches of the puppets and the gamesmanship of their media lickspittles, but the real politics of hard leverage for big money — then you’ll pay attention.

 

Read More: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0909-20110909,0,6270746,full.column

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