Considering the complexity involved here, I thought it might be helpful to write a Gilligan’s Island-esque theme song to better explain the story. But I only got as far as “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful Elgin City Councilman” which, as you can tell, just doesn’t work.
So, let’s move on.
Much like that catastrophic earworm theme song, we’re gonna tell this tale backwards because that’s the only way it’ll ever make sense. But rest assured, in the end, it all comes down to Elgin City Councilman Corey Dixon taking a “bribe” to vote against Mayor Dave Kaptain’s proposed 2020 ethics ordinance.
When The First Ward broke the news that former Elgin City Councilman, Baldemar Lopez wasn’t running for a second term, it was met with a stunned disbelief. Folks kept pressing me to explain why that was case, but since my source had no clue, there wasn’t much I could say.
Obviously one of my favorite source was dead on, but now, another stellar source came forward to explain exactly why Lopez decided to fade into the obscurity he so richly deserves.
So, let’s head back to 2019 when the WBEZ and The First Ward reported that, not only was Lopez a registered lobbyist, but he’d taken 60 grand from those eminently charitable Commonwealth Edison folks for not doing much anything! When Councilman Lopez was pressed about exactly what services he performed for the utility giant, he told the press he “couldn’t remember.”
I don’t know about you, and while I’m certainly open to the possibility, if someone dropped 60 large in my bank account I’d kinda want to know why.
Of course, back in late 2019 no one was prescient enough to surmise that all sorts of holy bribery hell was about descend on ComEd, Michael Madigan’s most trusted lieutenants would go down faster than a Kardashian at a party, and the scandal would eventually cost Madigan his political career.
And even though Lopez eventually returned the 60 grand, that too-little-too-late effort appeared to be about as effective as the Cheeto Supreme’s quest to overturn the 2020 election. Put more simply, it seemed as if those federal walls would soon be closing in on our intrepid councilman.
Enter Mrs. Lopez!
If you’ve read my soon-to-be-bestselling book, ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election,’ the first electoral commandment therein is “If your spouse doesn’t want you to run for office, don’t –
particularly if that spouse is your wife.” And much like this reporter, Mrs. Lopez started to see the federal handwriting on the wall.
First, as a result of all the bad press, “Baldy,” as he’s affectionately called, lost quite a few clients who didn’t want the stench of a statewide bribery scandal rubbing off on them. You certainly can’t blame them, can you?
Worse yet, fearing her family would lose everything if the Councilman went to the pokey, Mrs. Lopez threatened divorce if he continued to run and put an increasingly larger federal bullseye on his back.
So, Lopez, who ran for Elgin City Council as a steppingstone to ostensibly unseating 65th District State Rep Dan Ugaste, wisely chose to stay married, instead. All I can say is, I’m really starting to like Mrs. Lopez!
Though truth be told, despite the Madigan ground game remaining generally intact, without his velvety iron fist demanding fealty, beating Ugaste in a demonstrably Republican district is far from a foregone conclusion even in Illinois.
But the best part is, word on the street is, as a result of all the exposes, Lopez hates my guts with the kind of passion reserved for a middle-school girl whose bestie just stole her new boyfriend. Trust me! I will wear that abject hatred like a bleepin’ badge of honor.
But back to Councilman Dixon!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s been crossed off Lopez’ Christmas card list, Because Mayor Kaptain earned his ire when he proposed the aforementioned ethics ordinance which would’ve barred lobbyists from serving on the Elgin City Council. And in an effort to seek retribution, Lopez offered some campaign “assistance” if Councilman Dixon would vote against the ordinance.
And sure enough! On April 26 Lopez’ lobbying firm, Stratagem Consulting, paid, I mean “contributed,” $1,200 to Dixons future campaign efforts. The fascinating thing is, he didn’t extend that kind of largesse to his former council cronies Tish Powell, John Steffen, and Carol Rauschenberger.
Perhaps he knew their “no” votes were already in the bag.
As you might imagine, I reached out to Councilman Dixon on July 12 seeking comment, and all it would’ve taken was a simple, “No! I’ve never taken a bribe from anyone,” and that’s exactly what I would’ve printed. But Dixon has been more silent than a Trump supporter at a gay Hispanic wedding.
And, to me, that silence speaks volumes! Oh! And In September of 2020, the Dixons moved into a $523,900 house on a golf course because we all know he’s “everyman,” Right?
Elgin voters, and particularly Elgin non-voters, just keep on getting exactly what they deserve!