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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.

"We went underground," he said. "We wrote everything on sheets of paper and passed them back and forth. The judge was afraid the office was bugged."
"What happened to the notes after you were finished with them?" the prosecutor asked.

"The judge took them," Worsek said. "He tore them up, and then he flushed them down the toilet."
@body:You could never understand why Rostenkowski thinks the way he does about government unless you went to Chicago and spent some time in his Polish neighborhood around Damen, Division and North avenues.

Rostenkowski grew up in this predominantly Polish area of the city. His father reigned as the alderman for 20 years. So the young Rostenkowski was raised as a Polish prince, heir apparent to all the spoils the Democratic machine had to offer. His first job was as an assistant to his father in the ward office. He has never held a real job for pay outside politics.

He rose from being a gofer for his old man to being a prime golfing partner with the lobbyists for big corporations like General Electric. He has become a powerful deal maker. More than anyone except Ronald Reagan, Rostenkowski is responsible for the 1981 tax cut that decimated the middle class and comforted the very rich of this country.

He grew up in this grimy section of the city split by a grotesque, winding set of El tracks that leave the adjacent streets shrouded in perpetual shadow. It's too cold in winter, and you have to fight with your fists to preserve your parking spot on the street when it snows. It's too hot in summer. You are considered affluent if you have a window air conditioner in your bedroom. The great gathering places are the Busy Bee restaurant, the Luxor Baths and a dozen or so shot-and-a-beer taverns.

Danny Rostenkowski has been a member of Congress since 1958. By gradual steps, he has become increasingly arrogant, corpulent and bellicose. He is an underdog, but he will be hard to like when he comes to trial.

Because of the tax laws he helped to push through, American companies began firing people and building new plants overseas. This is the man who pretends to be a friend of the people? This is the same man who took all the money from the big horse-racing interests and then wrote new tax laws for them that saved their industry. But Congressman Danny is not likable. He is a big, noisy and arrogant man who drinks too much in public and gets noisier and more arrogant by the glass. Slip him enough drinks over lunch at Eli's Steak House on Chicago Avenue, and he'll tell you what it's like to deal with the Jews and the Shines back in Washington, D.C. Congressman Danny is the ultimate Polack. But right now, he's still on his feet, hiring new lawyers and spoiling for the ultimate showdown in a courtroom.

I have been to dozens of those quaint meetings of the Democratic party of Cook County in Chicago, where they always smiled upon "Congressman Danny."

Mayor Richard J. Daley, then an aging bull, and Rostenkowski, then a rising political star, circled each other respectfully.

I remember a meeting at which the Democratic ward bosses voted unanimously that Daley would once again be their candidate for mayor. That they actually held a vote was remarkable in itself. Who else would they vote for if not Daley?

That day, Rostenkowski celebrated by bounding to his feet and bellowing, "I don't think I'll see a man of Mayor Daley's caliber walk through my life again. I don't think any of us will."

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Tom Fitzpatrick

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