Anan vs. John at library, 3/13: Liquor control and tax fraud

* The liquor commissioner item:

Anan Abu-Taleb, on that day featured on Wed. Journal front page as alleged ineligible for village board presidency he seeks in the April 9 election, said he would divest his liquor-licensed restaurant if elected.

To whom? asked forum moderator Dan Haley, Wed. Journal publisher, with view to former village attorney’s that-day published opinion that his whole family could not be owners either. “Not your business,” said Anan, repeating this when Haley registered surprise and repeated his question. Anan was not budging.

Haley to Anan’s opponent, John Hedges, a sitting board member: Are you satisfied with that? To which John: If he divests from his family, yes.

Anan: I said I would no longer be the owner if elected. To which John, in shrugging tone, quietly: Then it’s an issue.

* The tax fraud conviction:

Anan admitted to tax fraud 23 years ago to the tune of $4,000, paid $8,700-plus in taxes and penalties to the state, 10 years later sought expungement of his conviction from a state commission, received it two years later.

Governor at time was Blagojevich, now doing federal time for his many pay-to-play offenses. Sun-Times publicized this at time of Blagojevich exposure.

Anan stood to explain himself to the hundred or so on hand at the library, made a highly effective plea for forgiveness, neither groveling nor making light of the issue.

“I asked for a second chance,” he said. The experience, “made me a better father, a better husband, business owner, citizen.” As to the pay-to-play aspect, “I never contributed [to the governor] or was asked to. I made a mistake and corrected this. Now I want to give back to the village, help it repair its financial instability.” He sat back down.

Haley to Hedges: Is that an issue with you? Not an issue, said Hedges.

Bang. Perfect-pitch performance by the accused. A sigh of relief must have come forth from supporters. Dignified acceptance by Hedges, who had not himself raised the issue. Key moment in campaign. Henceforward, issues of government and policy. Abu-Taleb — you read it here — was on his way.

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