Wednesday, June 24, 2009



A very smart friend and relative (indeed “another of my protégés who has lapped me about a thousand times on the road race of life,”) asked me what I thought of Illinois Comptroller and fellow former 19th Warder Dan Hynes. I thought my reply sufficiently informative and entertaining to merit a post:


A little story, which isn’t especially revelatory…

When I was working on the junk desk at First Chicago, one of the Hynes kids, who was in the First Scholars Program, worked with us on one of his rotations, crunching numbers, getting coffee, running downstairs to get us Swedish fish, etc. So when Dan Hynes ran for comptroller a few years later, I called Anthony Melchiorre (who did the same thing with much more aplomb but had since moved to NY and was, at the time, trading junk bonds at a big Wall Street firm, either DLJ or Paine Webber at that time, on his way to running what is now a multi-billion dollar hedge fund…another of my protégés who has lapped me about a thousand times on the road race of life, but that is another issue) and asked if that was the same Hynes who used to get us coffee who was now on the verge of becoming Comptroller. (Anthony kept in touch with his fellow First Scholars.) He replied that, no, that was not the same Hynes who used to get his coffee, but, rather, his little brother. Hmm…The musings of a frustrated old man can indeed be entertaining.

But seriously, though, folks, what do I think of Dan Hynes? He has done a respectable job, though I don’t know how to properly evaluate the job of Comptroller of the State of Illinois. He lost to Barack Obama in the primary for U.S. Senate despite heavy Machine backing, but no disgrace in that. He is politically ambitious and would like to move up. Though his father’s (former Assessor and 19th Ward Committeeman Tom Hynes) influence has waned considerably with age, the younger Hynes still has the backing of the still formidable 19th Ward organization, even though he no longer lives there, I think.

So Dan Hynes has done a competent job and has kept his shoulder pretty much to the wheel, as far as I can tell, despite his ambition for a bigger job. He, of course, would not be anywhere near where he is now were it not for his last name, but if we’re going to fault people for that in this state, we have to fault a long list of people, including almost all of his potential opponents in whatever race he might enter. So I don’t have anything bad to say about the guy. Everything said in this paragraph about him, by the way, I could say about Lisa Madigan. They seem to be running on a parallel track, but with Lisa a bit (but not as much as one would think from casual observation) ahead on that track.

One item of concern that has nothing to do with him personally: I wonder if his ambitions will be thwarted and/or he will be overshadowed, by the smarter, more impressive, and even more politically ambitious Tom Dart, who currently is Cook County sheriff (following in the footsteps of his mentor Mike Sheahan). How many people can even the 19th Ward sponsor?

For background, and I don’t know whether this serves to enhance or detract from my credibility on this issue, I’ve never met Tom Dart, Dan Hynes, or Lisa Madigan. I knew Tom Hynes to say hello and always found him a pretty good guy despite his foolish, almost oafish, run for mayor in 1987. Such political dropped balls were very uncharacteristic of this very skilled ward committeeman. I knew Mike Sheahan a little better than I knew Hynes; he used to go to Sacred Heart (along with his brother Skinny (Jim)) once in awhile and I’d run into him there at post-Mass coffee on the first weekend of the month. And I probably knew Skinny better than I knew either (though not very well) from running into him around the neighborhood before we defected.

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