Lester: State's attorney candidate gives job to former gang member

A candidate in the hotly contested Democratic primary race for Cook County state's attorney has added a former Chicago gang leader and ex-felon to her staff. But Chicago attorney Donna More calls Wallace “Gator” Bradley a “role model” deserving of second chances.

Bradley, a former member of the Gangster Disciples, was convicted of burglary and armed robbery in the 1970s. He served a year in prison and three years on work release. In 1990, he was pardoned by Gov. Jim Thompson for what Bradley describes as “the work I put back into the community.”

Pay for 'urban translating'

These days, Bradley's is an “urban translator” and political consultant for More's campaign. His main task, he tells me, is educating voters, particularly in black neighborhoods, to understand “that justice cannot be defined by race, religion or party.”

Recent campaign records show More's campaign paid him $12,875 in less than two months.

He's also worked for congressmen Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr., among others. Democratic operatives say More has taken a controversial step by paying him directly out of her payroll.

The Force, in the flesh

If you're one of those all worked up about the release of the newest “Star Wars” flick later this week, the local chapter of an international “Star Wars” costuming club may join you at the theaters.

  A "Star Wars" stormtrooper and Midwest Garrison member greets young fans at a Bartlett Lions Club Fourth of July Parade. John McGillen/

The Midwest Garrison, the Illinois chapter of the 501st Legion, will appear in costume at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove Thursday for the premiere of “The Force Awakens,” as well as Friday in Schaumburg.

Its members allow fans to meet and network with each other as they build “Star Wars” movie costumes from scratch.

In character, they regularly engage in charitable work, visiting hospitals and blood drives and charity fundraisers. You can also hire them out for weddings. Seriously. Check out their site,, for event listings.

Sweet mention

Sweet Baby Ray's in Elk Grove Village is the only Illinois restaurant on's “Top 25 restaurants of 2015.” Did you know the dining deals site, in operation since 1999, is based in Arlington Heights?

Bright futures ahead

I had the pleasure of judging the 'We the People' state finals for the Illinois Center for Civic Education's high school civics competition Friday at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. Among the schools competing were Maine South High School, Evanston Township High School and Waukegan High School.

I asked whether low voter turnout and a widespread lack of interest in politics is a sign of our democracy failing. One Maine South student replied: “The nation isn't broken, but what we're doing is evolving.”

Big bucks

Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. was one key swing vote in favor of a contentious penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase this summer, pushed by Cook County President

  Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Mark Welsh/

Toni Preckwinkle. Well, Preckwinkle's campaign just dropped $10,000 into the Chicago Democrat's campaign account, records show.

Krishnamoorthi testing negatives

Democratic congressional

Hoffman Estates Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, candidate for the 8th District seat in Congress.

candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi has been recently poll testing for negatives in his appeal to voters, I've learned from a top party source. Those potential negatives include investments in companies that move jobs overseas, taking campaign contributions from a company that's outsourced jobs and funding losses to the Bright Start program while the Hoffman Estates Democrat served as deputy state treasurer. Krishnamoorthi is bidding for congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's open seat in the Democratic primary against state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin and Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel.

Lissau's other side

Many of you know my colleague Russell Lissau for his work covering all things Lake County, but did you know he also moonlights as a comic book author? Lissau was among those signing comic books at My Happy Place in Crystal Lake's “Holiday Comic Con” on Saturday. His latest series with John Bivins is a thriller called Old Wounds, about the harsh consequences of a crime-fighter's life long after he's hung up his mask. It was collected into a paperback last month.

Today's snap

Democratic strategist Kitty Kurth, front left, who's worked a host of key local races, and was also a key adviser to the Draft Biden committee, did some holiday partying at the the vice president's residence in Washington with Joe and Jill Biden.

Democratic strategist Kitty Kurth, front left, who's worked a host of key local races, and was also a key adviser to the Draft Biden committee, did some holiday partying at the the vice president's residence in Washington with Joe and Jill Biden.


Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull rubbed elbows with suburban mayors and officials, including Bloomingdale Mayor Franco Coladipietro, at a Christmas bash at the Westin Lombard.

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Barrington superintendent: Transgender policies akin to school desegregation battles

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Lester: Duchossois fights horse slaughter rule, irks Jane Byrne's daughter

Telling his story helps heal Our Lady of Angels fire survivor

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