Residents Wrestle With Former Mayor Blase's Wrongdoings

The village has followed his saga in and out of jail, and continues to wrestle with his legacy.


Clark Kent October 18, 2011 at 02:45 PM
A year or so past, Trustee Hanusiak offered an ordinance to change the name of the plaza from "Blase" to a name which memorialized Nilesites and village staffers who DIED AND GAVE THEIR LIVES in service to the citizens and public. Blase protégé Mayor Callero provided the NO VOTE which ended the matter at that time. Now Trustee Palicki has rightfully raised the issue again. Blase domineered Niles for nearly half a century. He promised to end "domination" by the Democrats when he campaigned in 1961 and within a few months of being mayor forced the Democratic committeeman of Maine Township out of office and became the head of the Democrats for decades. His campaign in 1961 complained that 20-year incumbent; Mayor Frank Stankiewiec had served TOO LONG! Blase campaigned at my parents' home and said NOBODY deserved to stay in office that long. And then BLASES STAYS FOR NEARLY A HALF-A-CENTURY! The egos of these self-serving, arrogant politicians are amazing. He was often seen then driving around Niles in a Caddy convertible surveying his fiefdom and the toiling serfs caring for their lawns.
Clark Kent October 18, 2011 at 02:56 PM
He squashed political opposition by giving public jobs to those who planned to or had run against him and his cronies. He made no effort to recruit independent future leaders for the village. Village trustees were selected on the basis of loyalty to him, and to him alone…having their own connections to labor union “donations” and others. He ran for Congress in 1972 and was trounced outside of Niles. Politics under Blase was ALWAYS ABOUT HIM, HIS CAREER and HIS CHOICES. The puff-pieces that "he built" Niles are silly and insulting. Milwaukee Avenue was the conduit for Chicagoans to move to the suburbs for newer homes and space to raise kids. This process was well in progress by 1961; Niles, as well as other suburbs, grew the same way...BUILY BY SUBDIVISION DEVELOPERS and the market economy, NOT POLITICIANS...the breed that always takes credit for what someone else has done. Blase was never known to have said what a great contribution Mr. Stankiewiec had made! Only HIM..."NICK" was to be the Zeus of the Olympian Niles! He piggy-backed on the natural course of human progress and then claimed credit. I could find no instance where he honored those who preceded him in office. Blasé was to be the center of the known political universe and everybody else better step to the side. Another Stroger. Another Daley.
Clark Kent October 18, 2011 at 03:12 PM
And the citizens and residents and employees of Niles who DIED in the course of their service? Aw...forget them! Nick is what counts. What Nick wants is important. Who Nick wants in office is what counts. How Nick wants the money spread around is what counts. Who Nick slates as a candidate is what counts. It's all about NICK. Niles was as much a feudal kingdom as any absolutist European monarchy in the Middle Ages. His indictment and conviction was only on a few instances of his years in office. I found news articles that the Feds were checking him out not long after he took office in the 1960s. When he was arrested he said he was innocent, and when he was sentenced he admitted he was guilty...what trusting veracity! IT IS TIME TO MEMORIALIZE AND TO REMEMBER THE LOST LIVES OF OUR OWN LOVED ONES WHO ENTERED ETERNITY LONG BEFORE THEY SHOULD HAVE. THEY ARE WHAT COUNTS!
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) October 18, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Thanks for the comment, Clark. I didn't know Blase ran for Congress.
Clark Kent October 19, 2011 at 01:39 AM
More specifically, in the 1972 Democratic Primary. During the 1950s Niles was in the 13th Congressional District and represented by Marguerite Stitt Church (R) who succeeded her late husband in that position. What a wonderfully talented, educated , elegant, conservative, pro-American lady. Mrs. Church retired in 1962 and was replaced by Donald Rumsfeld (R) from 1963-1969. There were a number of people who entered the Republican primary to replace Rumsfeld and the winner was Phil Crane (R) who was in Congress from 1969 through 2005. In 1972 new lines were drawn based upon the 1970 Census and there was again no incumbent so everybody got into the fray. The Democratic winner was the carpetbagger motor-mouthed Abner Mikva who beat Blase and several others in the primary. The Republican winner in the new 10th District was Sam Young (who I think is still living in our area) but served only one term, losing to Mikva by the famous "201 votes" (Watergate Era "victory"). Mikva almost lost in 1979 and so he CONVENIENTLY got a Carter judicial appointment (with the usual sob story of how he really hated to leave Congress yada yada yada). The we had the moderate John Porter (R) and the rest I'm sure you know.
Clark Kent October 19, 2011 at 02:13 AM
When Blase ran in '72 he only made a moderate showing in Niles precincts (and not even all of them). Niles never had "political" clout with the Democrats so the town never had reps or senators...or anything important position for that matter...because 1) it was in two townships and 2) its committeemen were self-promoting , selfish political creatures with different agendas. To the best of my recollection the only Blase tool to hold a non-village position was Blase law partner Ken Cohen who did the usual Blase arranged career path of serving on the Niles Zoning board and was an Associate Judge; area law enforcement personnel worked against Cohen’s reelection campaigns because they considered him arrogant, etc. (Like Father, like son). Niles Township Committeeman “Smiling” Cal Sutker, ”friend” of Blase, was concerned about his own political skin and the careers of his favored Skokie/North Shore Jewish politician allies. No room for Blase there, so Niles was effectively cut off from political access and influence. Hence, anybody who wanted to “get into” politics came with hat-in-hand to Blase. Gotcha, Sucker! Now there is a chance to HONOR and REMEMBER people who actually DID SOMETHING! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxI_yiq7YG0&list=PLF1E3F02E17576296&index=82
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) October 19, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Thanks for the history lesson, Clark! One always has to wonder about the effect of Niles being divided between two townships and four state reps. And I do remember John Porter. I interviewed him during one of his election campaigns. I had the impression his district was in Lake County; I didn't realize it came this far south.


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