An Open Letter to Sam Zell

Dear Mr. Sam Zell,

Boy, have I got a deal for you.

I understand there are great expectations for you to engineer a turnaround of the Tribune Media Empire as the crowning achievement of your storied career in business.

But let me challenge you to something even more daunting than resuscitating that which Col. McCormick built.

How about breathing new life into the house that Honest Abe built?

Mr. Zell, please make the Illinois Republican Party an offer it can’t refuse.

I understand that if the Illinois GOP was a stock, trading would be suspended. However, just as you bought an aggregation of flailing media properties to orchestrate an across-the-board renewal of the Tribune brand, as in the private sector, there are economies of scale when you buy a conglomerate of politicians.

I know this will be seen as crass and brazen to some, particularly with Illinois’ track record of selfless public servants, ahem.

The thought a politician being bought or an entire political party controlled by one man, like Mike Madigan for instance, will undoubtedly offend the latent reformers disguised as church mice populating the halls of power in Illinois.

There is, however, growing precedent for the approach I propose. Eddie Vrdolyak recently purchased the Cook County Republican Party and the Service Employees Union (SEIU) is attempting a hostile takeover of the Chicago City Council.

Like daily newspapers, the Illinois GOP is rapidly going the way of the Dodo bird. The party’s eight year death spiral has driven out some of the bad and some of the good but, more than anything, it has left what passes for the leadership of the party with the fighting spirit of a conscientious objector.

I am tired of playing Elizabeth Hasselback to the Democrats’ Rosie O’Donnell in this state. If I wanted to be bullied by ignorant, angry lesbians and their cohorts, I would go teach at a university or caddy on the LPGA tour.

What I and a lot of other rank-and-filers would like is to see a restoration of the promise implicit in the Republican Party name combined with the candidates, organization and discipline to fulfill our promise.

That’s where you come in, Mr. Zell. I know you care about ideas. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have been a generous donor to the reform candidacies of both Forrest Claypool and Tony Peraica for Cook County Board President.

Once you “pay for the microphone” the floor is yours — and your bottom line sensibilities, whether for dollars or votes, is exactly what the GOP in Illinois needs.


Desperate in DuPage County