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The 1983 and 1987 campaigns of Harold Washington, Chicago's first African-American mayor, paved the way for Barack Obama's political rise by fostering a strong connection among predominantly African-American south siders and the predominantly white north side progressive community. So those of us who supported Washington and now Obama find a possible good omen in today's news that Washington's arch-nemesis, former alderman and onetime Republican mayoral candidate "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a federal racketeering case. The Chicago Tribune quoted U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as saying: "The notion in Chicago that there are certain people who cannot or will not be held accountable took a serious hit today." That view may apply nationally as well as locally: one hopes that the chickens are finally coming home to roost.