The PJ Tatler

Cook County Politics: Where Prison Time Is A Résumé Builder

Inmate exchange program.

Calling himself a “scapegoat” for a political hiring system that continues to this day, Chicago’s convicted former Streets and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez filed nominating petitions Monday for a seat on the Cook County Board.

The longtime head of the Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO) Southeast, Sanchez is just five months removed from the federal prison camp in Marion, Ill., where he lost 50 pounds.

He spent 2.5 years there for rigging city hiring and promotions to benefit soldiers in HDO, a now-defunct army of political workers that helped to elect and re-elect former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Monday was the filing deadline for the March 18 primary elections. Sanchez, 65, filed 1,150 signatures gathered in just three days to get his name on the ballot in the 4th District, a seat vacated by William Beavers, who ironically reported to prison on the same day.

You read that right: the guy getting out of prison is running for the seat of the guy who is going into the same prison. The City of Chicago does have some restrictions on convicted felons holding elected offices, which is probably why its employees are better at not getting caught. The state and Cook County are more lenient. Look for prison time to become the college degree of Illinois office holders soon.