Washington Park has offered neighbors decades of entertainment, and not just the salacious kind with the flashing lights and neon exteriors.
The village was Ground Zero during the Venezia video gambling ring days, with village leaders in the center providing protection to the gambling operating from the village’s many strip clubs. There have been multiple federal investigations and raids on village hall by the FBI. There has been bankruptcy.
Political machinations and election fraud has offered a continuing story line, with local Democrats remaining in power because they can count on the block of votes coming from Washington Park and other impoverished communities. Election fraud again appears to be behind the latest scandal to surface: The public release of three election judges’ Social Security and cell phone numbers.
It is curious that such information would be released by St. Clair County Clerk Thomas Holbrook. It is understandable that he would possess that information to contact and pay them for working on election day, but why would he release it?
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He said he was sorry and plans to do better.
Washington Park Mayor Ann Rodgers’ actions are also curious. She got the private info via fax, then sent copies out to the village trustees in their meeting packets.
She said they were obligated to keep the info private, and that she shared the info with trustees to discuss Democratic Chairman Robert Sprague’s efforts to control the election process in the village by swapping out judges who had been in place for five years. Still, the personal info was carelessly left on the documents and spread around so that someone could release it. Election judges are not the business of village leaders, and Rodgers loaded the weapon for her foes.
The real deal is likely that this was a bit of political intimidation. Her political opponent, Village Clerk Ricky Thomas, points to Rodgers as the villain. She points to him. But the real culprit is likely above the bluffs and wanted to control the foot soldiers so as not to lose the battle Nov. 8.
But just to set the record straight, election judges are not intended to be politicians’ pawns. Their job is supposed to be the opposite — keep elections fair, not throw them.