My Derrick Smith weekend | Bleader

My Derrick Smith weekend

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Derrick Smith, now going door to door.
The last time I talked to Derrick Smith, he was telling me he wasn't in a good place to have a conversation and that he'd call me back in "two seconds"—tops.

That was almost two weeks ago. Haven't heard from him since. I've got that way with local politicians.

One more time . . .

Derrick Smith's the Democratic candidate for state representative in the Tenth legislative district on the west side of Chicago.

He's also the former state representative who was arrested and charged with taking a $7,000 bribe from an undercover mole pretending to want a state grant to operate a day care center.

The feds say they have a tape of the alleged transaction.

The arrest occurred on March 13, just a week before the March primary, which he won anyway.

His legislative colleagues voted 100 to 6 to oust him from his seat. And his erstwhile west-side Democratic allies drafted a lawyer/lobbyist named Lance Tyson to run a third-party campaign against Smith.

In the hopes of keeping Smith from returning to his old seat and embarrassing them for having slated him in the first place.

Here's the whole story.

A few days after my column ran, I got a call from Johnny, an old pal who lives in the Tenth district, not far from the United Center.

"You'll never guess who just showed up at my house," Johnny said.

"Michael Jordan?" I said.

"No, Derrick Smith."

Pause.

"I don't believe you," I said.

"It's true. About 15 minutes ago—he rang the doorbell and everything."

"You mean, the guy's actually campaigning?"

"I'm telling you—he's going door to door, up and down the block."

"Did you ask him why he hasn't called me back?"

"No, but I told him, 'You about to go to jail, man.' He told me, 'I didn't do nothing.' I said, 'I heard they caught you on tape.' And he said, 'They didn't catch me doing nothing, man.' That's not a bad campaign slogan, when you think about it."

"What?"

"'They didn't catch me doing nothing, man.' He should put it on his billboards."

Johnny and I figure Smith's campaigning hard for the most obvious of reasons: he wants his old $67,836-a-year legislator's salary to help pay his legal bills.

That could be his campaign mission statement.

Coincidentally, the day after Johnny called, I happened to have breakfast with another old friend who happened to be one of Smith's grammar school teachers.

Call it my Derrick Smith weekend.

She said, "Derrick was a nice young man when I had him in the classroom."

Which is probably a better campaign slogan than the aforementioned "They didn't catch me doing nothing, man."

Having said that, she added: "Derrick, call Ben back!"

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