Bernard Schoenburg: Schock helps boost Dem Mendoza to higher office

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

U.S. Rep. AARON SCHOCK, R-Peoria, helped a Chicago Democrat get elected to a higher office in the Feb. 22 election.

But perhaps that’s not a surprise, seeing as how she helped him get elected to Congress in 2008.

State Rep. SUSANA MENDOZA, who was a colleague of Schock’s in the Illinois House, recorded a TV commercial for Schock in 2008, when he won his first term in the U.S. House.

On Feb. 22, Mendoza got 60 percent of the vote over PATRICIA HORTON to win a race for Chicago city clerk. In the process, Mendoza got $5,000 from the Schock for Congress fund and another $5,000 from the GOP Generation Y Fund, Schock’s leadership PAC.

Mendoza, who starts her new job May 16, stressed to me that the citywide job she won is officially nonpartisan. She added that other GOP colleagues also donated to her campaign, she’s always worked in a bipartisan way in Springfield, and the Chicagoans she’ll serve include independents and Republicans.

“Aaron reached out to me,” Mendoza said. “He was very excited to hear about my desire to run for citywide office.”

Mendoza said she and Schock are in touch “all the time.”

“It’s funny, because I disagree with like 90 percent of his political ideology,” she said. “But point being, we’re friends … and as a person I think Aaron Schock is wonderful.

“It’s good to have friends in Washington both on the left and the right. Right now, they (Republicans) happen to be in the majority, right? So it’s not a bad place to have a friend these days.”

About those political signs

A state law that took effect Jan. 1 brought Illinois into compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says municipalities can’t restrict the period during which political signs can be placed on private property. That means former Springfield and Sangamon County rules, which specified that signs couldn’t go up until 60 days before an election and must come down by a week or two after an election, are no longer in effect.

But what about people who buy homes in areas where covenants seem to impose restrictions? Well, things aren’t clear-cut.

Even though some political signs dot some subdivision lawns, this does not seem to be a burning question. Both CHRIS NOONAN, president of the Panther Creek Neighborhood Association; and JERRY JACINTO, president of the neighborhood association covering Tara Hill’s second and third additions (and across-the-street neighbor to mayoral candidate MIKE COFFEY JR.), say they have received no complaints with names attached to them about signs.

The Panther Creek covenants say “No sign of any kind shall be displayed to the public view on any building site” except for specific exceptions, such as those advertising homes for rent or sale, or a construction company sign during work. The Tara Hill covenant is similar.

Noonan said he knows that mayoral campaigns received e-mails from someone pointing out the covenant, but that person didn’t give a name and used an e-mail address that made it appear the letter represented Panther Creek homeowners.

“There are certainly more important things in our neighborhood that we need to be concerned about,” Noonan said. He made clear that it wasn’t his association that complained about the signs. He also noted that joining his homeowners’ group is voluntary.

 None of Jacinto’s neighbors — who are required to be part of the homeowners’ association — have complained.

“It’s certainly contrary to the wording of the covenants,” Jacinto said of having signs out. “Whether or not it’s enforceable, I don’t know.” He added that he does hope candidates promptly remove signs after the April 5 general election.

Springfield lawyer ESTHER SEITZ, who specializes in media law and thus handles such freedom-of-speech issues, said Illinois law doesn’t offer much guidance.

“Some states have addressed the enforceability of covenants restricting political yard signs by way of legislation or judicial decision,” she said.  “However distasteful these restrictive covenants may be, they are likely enforceable in Illinois as contracts between private parties.”  

She noted that Illinois law does prevent condominium and homeowners’ associations from restricting residents’ ability to fly the American flag.

Seitz also said it appears across the country that the more a homeowners’ association takes on the functions of government — such as providing a police or security force, or water, sewer and road maintenance service, the more it would be bound by the same rules as governments, including allowing the kind of freedom of speech in political signage that cities must now allow.

I’m not aware of any homeowners’ group in town being that much like a government, but I’m also not a judge.

Before there are more definitive rulings or homeowners’ associations decide there’s a nuisance situation going on, or somebody takes a neighbor to court, it appears some of those political signs — particularly in season — will be seen all over town.

Topinka on disabled list

Best of luck to Comptroller JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, whose right knee is to be replaced today at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

“She has been dealing with an infection in her knee for a couple of years, and the doctor decided it was time to replace it,” said Topinka spokesman BRAD HAHN. “When all is said and done, the knee should be as good as new, so she’s looking forward to that.”

Hahn said Topinka will be out of the office for a couple of weeks, but plans to be in touch with staff members.

Video of meeting on WSEC

Springfield’s public television station is running video of Friday’s Citizens Club of Springfield meeting that featured Schock and Springfield Mayor FRANK EDWARDS. The hourlong program will run on WSEC (Channel 8 on Comcast in Springfield and 14.1 over the air) at 8 p.m. today and 10 p.m. Friday. It will be on PBS/World (Channel 417 on Comcast and 14.2 over the air) at 10 tonight and 5 p.m. Friday. The program will also be on the station’s YouTube channel as of noon Friday. That’s at www.youtube.com/networkknowledge.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.