That didn't take long.
Days after his appointment as alderman of the First Ward, Proco “Joe” Moreno, is being billed as the headlining guest at a fund-raiser for the First Ward Democrats' political organization. Hosts of the event include some of the biggest names in local politics, including Cook County Democratic Party chairman Joseph Berrios and alderman Toni Preckwinkle, who ran as a reformer to win the Democratic primary for county board president.
On Monday Mayor Daley picked Moreno to replace Manny Flores, who resigned his aldermanic seat in January to head the Illinois Commerce Commission. In announcing the selection, Daley touted Moreno as a “business leader” of the ward and highlighted his “valuable private sector experience” as vice president of the Buhl Press, a graphic arts and printing company.
First Ward Democratic committeeman Jesse Ruben Juarez helped organize the cocktail reception and fund-raiser. He backed Moreno and Flores’s former chief of staff, Raymond Valadez, for the mayor’s appointment before jumping into the ring himself. Juarez told me the fund-raiser was in the works long before Daley picked Moreno.
“Now that he’s the leader of the ward, we added his name to it,” Juarez said.
The event also includes several politicians seeking higher office in the November general election, including Berrios, who’s running for county assessor, Preckwinkle, and state rep John Fritchey, the Democratic nominee for county commissioner of the north-side 12th District.
Noticeably absent from the guest list is Moreno’s predecessor. Juarez said Flores wasn’t included because of possible conflicts of interest that might arise now that Flores chairs the ICC.
“We didn’t check to see what the proper procedure is since he’s on the ICC,” Juarez said. “We wanted to avoid anything improper.”
When I reached Flores, he simply congratulated Moreno and said he wouldn't be attending the event.
The fund-raiser is scheduled for April 14, the same day the City Council is expected to approve Moreno’s appointment. The next election for the office is in February 2011.