By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"They tell me they're acting for themselves and that they represent more than 3,000 black residents.
"You make no goddamn demands to this old man,' I told them. 'Who died and elected you guys boss?
"I'm the elected boss. You get out, you sons of bitches, and don't come back.'"
Marzullo put his hands on his belly and smiled contentedly. Suddenly, he turned all cozy and warm.
Then Marzullo said, "Sometimes, I feel just like goddamn Abraham Lincoln. He's the one who said you can only fool some of the people some of the time, right?
"But my people . . . they got confidence in Vito Marzullo all of the time."
@body:Alderman Charley Weber was one of the last Chicago aldermen to operate a saloon and use it as his ward office. He had an enlightened theory about how much money to pay for services in his ward.
Weber openly paid money to volunteers to get out the vote. But he knew that even his friends would steal from him when they got the chance. A man would come in and ask for $200. Weber would look him in the eye and say: "Better still, here's $400. And make sure you do the best job you can."
Visitors to Weber's headquarters saw him do this time and again. He always paid double what he was asked.
One day, Weber explained his theory: "You give a guy $200 and you know he's gonna put the first hundred in his pocket. Then he'll have only $100 left to drop here and there. When I give him $400, that means he puts $200 in his pocket but there's still another $200 to pass around the ward."
@body:You cannot understand how real life can become until you mix with a Chicago alderman for a while.
I remember going out to the home of Alderman Wallace C. Davis in the 27th Ward. He had been accused by the FBI of taking a $1,500 bribe from an undercover man.
But Davis had a hell of an explanation, and I believed him.
"I'd never take that money, because I got plenty of my own money," Davis said.
He explained how he earned his fortune. Davis was running two auto-body shops and a barbecue restaurant, and one night, he heard a burglar in the restaurant.
Davis called the police. When the police came, they thought Davis was the burglar, and he could not dissuade them.
"They told me to spread eagle on the car I was driving. I did as I was told.
"I heard one of the cops say about me, 'This one's too tall to bring in. Let's shoot him.'"
The bullet went into Davis' back. "The next thing I remember is that I was on my back, and the cop has the gun between my eyes, and he's saying, 'Die, nigger, die.'"
"Before they took me to the hospital, they stole my watch, my wallet with $347 in it and my ring."
Davis was paralyzed for seven months, and he went from 224 pounds to 97. He sued and settled out of court for $300,000.
This was not the only brush Davis' family had with the authorities. His brother was shot to death while on a visit to Louisiana. By the time Davis got there, his brother was already in a coffin. Davis thought the coffin was too short to contain his brother's six-foot, six-inch body.
The funeral director refused to let him check the body. Davis got a court order. Sure enough, they had amputated his brother's legs and thrown them in the garbage to accommodate his body in the short coffin.
@body:It takes a while to get used to stories like this.
Chicago is a city permanently attuned to violence, financial shenanigans and corruption on all levels and of all sorts. It has become a way of life, so that blame is no longer attributable in the normal sense. It is simply the way people interact with one another.
A few years back, there was a big scandal over judges shaking down money from lawyers who appeared before them on a regular basis. The judge would simply call the lawyer into his office and tell him he needed a quick loan. The lawyer would run to his bank and bring it back--in cash.
I was in federal court the day a lawyer named Ernest Worsek told how he had given a loan of $15,000 to Judge Reginald Holzer. A little later, Holzer hit the lawyer up for another $10,000 and still later for another $10,000. Soon after that, Worsek was summoned to Judge Holzer's chambers again. Holzer told the lawyer that the judge's wife was now selling insurance and that Worsek would buy a $1 million policy from her.
"I was up the creek," Worsek said. "I couldn't offend him. I had loans I couldn't afford, a life-insurance policy I couldn't afford, and he wasn't paying any of the money back."
Then, one day, federal agents came to Worsek's office and told him they were on to Holzer's scheme. Worsek called Holzer on the phone and warned him.
Holzer told him to come into the office, that they must talk. Worsek explained what happened next.