Fearing conservative social policies, womens’ groups start offensive against Brady

By Adrian G. Uribarri
March 09, 2010

If state Sen. Bill Brady’s race against Gov. Pat Quinn comes anywhere as close as his campaign against Kirk Dillard, then one thing is for sure: It won’t be womens’ groups that push him over the edge.

Nearly eight months before the general election, advocates for abortion rights and equal-pay legislation have formally begun denouncing Brady, the Republican nominee for governor.

In a press conference this morning, leaders from several progressive organizations in the state portrayed Brady as a religiously motivated and extremely socially conservative candidate, unfit to serve women who want control over their reproductive and financial health.

“I literally shuddered at the notion of him in the governor’s office,” said Beth Kanter of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “Illinois women cannot afford Bill Brady in the governor’s office.”

Michelle Staeger, at the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, said his opposition to legislation that requires equal pay for women as for men in similar positions shows he is out of touch with reality.

“He’s simply ignoring the fact that there is still discrimination, based on gender, in the workplace,” Staeger said. She called his voting record in the Illinois General Assembly, where he has served more than 16 years, “troubling” and “alarming, in fact.”

Jaime Elich, Brady’s campaign spokeswoman, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Today’s unequivocal statements mark a first wave of resistance to Brady’s campaign outside of Quinn’s own camp. Last week, the governor released a statement in response to Brady’s nomination that clearly targeted his social positions.

“The Republican nominee is from the extreme right wing of the party and far from the mainstream of Illinois voters,” Quinn campaign spokeswoman Mica Matsoff wrote.

She cited his past opposition to the Family Medical Leave Act, equal-pay legislation and raising the minimum wage, as well as his support for legislation that would ban abortions, even for women who were raped or victims of incest.

The womens’ advocates echoed those sentiments today, strongly endorsing Quinn as their ally on those very issues.

Terry Cosgrove, president of the Personal Political Action Committee, pressed reporters to ask Brady what kind of penalties he would impose on women who illegally sought abortions or emergency contraceptives.

He joked that building prisons for them would not be his idea of a jobs plan.

“His extremist agenda has to be rejected by the people of Illinois,” Cosgrove said.

Lynda DeLaforgue, co-chair of Citizen Action Illinois, said Brady ranked second to last in an analysis of state legislators who ranked “poor” in their positions on social issues, as compared to the consumer organization’s progressive agenda.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, the staunch Rockford conservative, was last on the list.

“Sen. Brady has time and again voted against the needs of average Illinois families,” DeLaforgue said. “Consumer issues are womens’ issues.”

Perhaps nothing illustrated that more clearly during today’s event than its setting, the downtown Chicago offices of Environmental Design International Inc.

Deborah Sawyer, head of the firm, said that being a woman — and a minority, in her case — is especially challenging in a nontraditional industry for women such as civil engineering. Among other things, her firm helps construction companies mitigate environmental impacts from their building projects.

“We need a supportive, women-friendly governor to succeed,” Sawyer said.

Anthony Abbate Trial Summary

The Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women is pleased to report that the Police Review Board has decided that Anthony Abbate will be discharged. While this is not the ideal punishment for a violent felon, we are pleased that the board recognizes that Abbate is not fit to serve in this city. This decision sends the message that Judge John Fleming could not: the abuse of women and girls in Chicago must stop! The police are not above the law!

We wish the best for Karolina Obryka and her family.

Click here to read the decision…

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Respondent, Police Officer
Anthony Abbate, Star No. 18601, as a result of having been found
guilty of charges in Police Board Case No. 08 PB 2676, be and
hereby is discharged from his position as a police officer with
the Department of Police, and from the services of the City of
Chicago.

Chicago NOW was present at the final police review board trial. Be sure to read our summary in the blog section.

Anthony Abbate Trial Summary

Chicago NOW attended today’s long overdue police review board trial of Anthony Abbate.  The entire proceeding lasted from approximately 10:45am to 3pm.  I was able to see Anthony, Karolina and several other key witnesses and we learned some new and interesting details.

The transcript and video of the trial will now be turned over to the board, who will review the trial and make a decision when they meet in December.  Hopefully there will not be a delay due to the holidays.

The first person to take the stand was Anthony Abbate.  He’s just as large and red-faced in person as he seems on TV.  He invoked his 5th amendment right and refused to answer any questions.  One can only assume that his reluctance to answer questions is due to the fact that he is appealing his conviction.  During the questioning, the prosecution showed various video clips from the day of the assault beginning at 4pm, when Abbate originally came to the bar, and ending around 8:30 or 9pm when he fled after the beating.

The video is much longer than anything that has been released in the news.  It chronicles the entire day beginning with Anthony entering the bar early in the evening and immediately attacking his friend Mike.  Apparently Mike had insulted Anthony’s dog earlier that day, so Abbate came into the bar to both verbally and physically assault Mike.  The bartender on duty at the time, Peggy, tells Abbate to leave after the altercation.

Around 2 hours later Abbate returns to the bar and appears to be intoxicated.  It’s not clear if he was already drunk earlier in the day.  He’s shown drinking a high ball, some beer and then taking shots.  He spends most of the night singing off key to the Eagle’s greatest hits and harassing his friend Jimmy by punching him, putting him in a headlock and repeatedly taking his hat… yeah, taking his hat away.  As the woman next to me remarked, this is not my kind of fun.  After a while, Jimmy goes to the other side of the bar to avoid Abbate’s obnoxious behavior.

Apparently this was the first time that Karolina and Abbate had met at the bar although he was a regular patron.  As one can assume, Abbate tries desperately to win the attention of Karolina by calling her pet names and paying her empty compliments.  As he drinks, he starts playing a game where he flexes his muscles and announces that he’s Chicago Police… it’s really gross.  He continues to “flex” and tries to tempt Karolina to touch his body, but she’s really not interested in playing along and attempts to ignore his requests.

Abbate makes two attempts to come behind the bar; the second attempt results in the brutal beating of Karolina.  What shocked me even more is that we now know that the patrons in the bar were all acquainted and none of them attempted to do anything to intervene with the beating outside of telling Abbate that he should stop.

Most of the witnesses, including the victim of the first assault and the other bar tender, pled the 5th and refused to answer questions.  However, we did get to hear belligerent arguments and accusations from Mike, Abbate’s friend and victim.  He was really the least pleasant person I have ever encountered and I get the feeling that he’s hiding something.  Mike began with his outrage over the lack of bottled water and ended by accusing the prosecutor of plotting against him and ruining his pheasant hunting trip.

The most interesting details learned during the trial:

  1. Abbate allegedly sent a friend to try to pay off Karolina before she filed charges.
  2. Abbate threatened to harass patrons and intentionally give out DUI’s to exiting patrons when he learned that the bar owner intended to release the security tape.
  3. Abbate knew he was being taped while the beating occurred.  His friend Jimmy told him he was on camera just before delivering the first punch to Karolina.
  4. Abbate allegedly threatened to plant cocaine on the other bartender, Peggy, who came to Karolina’s defense.

The prosecution delivered closing arguments and now we will wait for the Police Review Board to review the tapes and make a decision.  The Board only meets once a month, so we will likely hear back from them in December or January.

CNOW will keep you posted as more details develop…

Sign a Petition to Protect a Woman’s Right to Choose!

From our friends at Planned Parenthood…

When it passed a historic health care reform bill, the House also adopted the Stupak amendment, a dangerous piece of legislation that would ban abortion from private and public insurance plans for millions of American women. Fortunately, the fight for women’s health didn’t end in the House, and our sharp focus is now on the Senate. We are demanding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ensure that language similar to the Stupak amendment does not become part of the Senate health care reform bill.

Take Action NOW!