[Vito Marzullo raw #8]

Raw tape #8 for Vito Marzullo documentary. Ward office. Marzullo talks with Tom Weinberg about a variety of subjects relating to Chicago politics. He demonstrates some of the most characteristically Chicago political opinions - why patronage is good, why one must be loyal to his party and put the city above himself, etc. Other members of Marzullo's organization, including County Commissioner Matt Ropa and one of Marzullo's precinct captains, also offer their opinions.

00:00Copy video clip URL The camera crew sets up taping equipment while Marzullo and Weinberg (off-camera) exchange a few good-natured jokes about wasting time on the job.

04:12Copy video clip URL Cook County Commissioner Matt Ropa takes a seat next to Marzullo for the interview, and the alderman explains Ropa’s background. Ropa, who served 18 years in the Illinois state legislature, comes from a prominent business and political family rooted on Chicago’s west side. Ropa came to work for Marzullo after redistricting placed him in the 25th Ward. Marzullo praises Ropa’s loyalty not only to the party but to the public. “No one walks alone,” Marzullo says, elaborating at length on the virtue of loyalty.

07:55Copy video clip URL Marzullo segues from his discussion of loyalty into a criticism of young voters—he calls them “intellectuals”—who oppose the city’s politics: “They come out once a year, they want to take the place of men who put in 15, 20, 30, 40 years in public life. And when they can’t get it, they squawk about the Machine. Well, let the Machine give them the ward and the district and the city, they eat it like you eat a piece of ice cream.” Ropa adds, “You have to work your way up. …You have to learn this business a little bit,” to which Marzullo hastily adds, “Not just what you want out of it, [but] what you can contribute to the communities.”

09:21Copy video clip URL Weinberg questions them further about public service and about why some politicians rise while others fall. Ropa again praises loyalty in politics, criticizing those Democrats who left the party once it fell on tough times. Marzullo, however, credits his relationship with his constituents for his success. “Everything I got, I’ve got to appreciate [that] I got it from the feeling and the confidence of the general public. I love people, period. If you don’t love people in this game, you can’t succeed,” he says, remarking that selfish politicians aren’t even worthy to wipe his shoes.

11:56Copy video clip URL Marzullo feels that the same vein of selfishness runs through ethnic communities, who he says feel entitled to privileges by virtue of their ethnicity. As a counterexample, Marzullo praises a young, self-made black man from his neighborhood who rose through the ranks of the political system due to his loyalty and gratitude for political patronage. “But these other sons of bitches, they run away from everybody,” Marzullo says. “They’re too big for their own people… They move out. They forget what the party did for them.”

15:11Copy video clip URL The tape pauses while the alderman conducts a meeting, and resumes to find a crew member readjusting Marzullo’s microphone.

16:38Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks a prominent community member with a thick Eastern European accent, who had come to visit the alderman, about the changing ethnic makeup of the ward, which transformed from Eastern European to mostly Mexican-American during Marzullo’s time as alderman. “They have pride in their home ownership, and that is great. That’s what we need,” the man (later identified as one of Marzullo’s precinct captains) said of his Mexican-American neighbors. Marzullo says that despite the ethnic and religious diversity of the neighborhood, “I think we’ve got the most harmonious ward in Chicago, and the most peaceful ward in Chicago.”

17:55Copy video clip URL Continuing on the theme of race relations, Marzullo shares a brief anecdote,. He explains that in 1975 he considered not running for re-election until a large group of men from many different races came to his office together and urged him to reconsider. The diverse group went so far as to say that they would protest at his home if he didn’t run again for alderman. “But that’s what makes me work the way I do,” he concludes.

20:13Copy video clip URL Marzullo rambles a bit before speaking more about the political makeup of his ward. At the time, Marzullo’s 25th Ward had the fewest registered voters of any ward in Chicago. Consulting a document, Marzullo says that (as of the time of shooting), his ward contained 17,400 registered voters, including approximately 9,100 Democrats and 452 Republicans. The precinct captain comments that low voter turnout results from large populations of residents who aren’t American citizens. The tape stops in the middle of the discussion.



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