‘Like the Berlin Wall falling!’ Some West Lawn residents toast neighbor Michael Madigan’s indictment

“I don’t like crooks — even if it benefits the neighborhood,” said one resident after the longtime powerful pol was hit with federal charges.

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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s West Lawn home, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Madigan has been federally indicted in a political corruption probe earlier today.

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s West Lawn home, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Madigan has been federally indicted in a political corruption probe earlier today.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Michael Madigan has been a fixture of Chicago’s Southwest Side for decades, but some of his neighbors believe his indictment Wednesday on federal corruption charges was a “long time coming.”

“He’s been a bully around here for a long time,” said one lifelong West Lawn resident who asked not to be named. “If you don’t pay, you don’t play. I don’t like crooks — even if it benefits the neighborhood.”

The resident was raising a toast to the news Wednesday night at the bar at Lawn Lanes, a local watering hole that has been around “as long as the Madigans,” he said.

Still, he was in shock when news broke about the former Illinois House Speaker: “Felt like the Berlin Wall falling! The Cubs winning the World Series. Seeing something you never thought would happen, happen.”

The 106-page indictment accuses Madigan of leading a criminal enterprise for nearly a decade, alleging schemes involving ComEd and a parcel of land in Chinatown.

The once-powerful Democrat, who left office more than a year ago, had held a seat in the state House of Representatives since 1971 and served as speaker for all but two years between 1983 and 2020.

Another neighbor who asked not to be named at the bar said he had friends who directly benefited from the “Madigan enterprise” but was happy to see the long investigation end in charges.

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Former Speaker of the House Michael Madigan parks in the garage at his Southwest Side home, Wednesday afternoon, March 2, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Madigan was seen leaving the parking lot of the 13th Ward offices Wednesday afternoon and pulling into the garage of his nearby home about 2:30 p.m. He did not answer repeated knocks from reporters or come out to speak with the press.

Maricela Ayala, who has lived about two blocks from Madigan for the past 19 years, said she wasn’t surprised to hear about the charges.

“It saddens me when people in power” are charged with corruption, she said as she walked in the neighborhood with a friend. “The politicians should be able to be trusted, but they’re always doing crooked stuff.

“They should be working for the people,” she added. “When they’re campaigning they say, ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do this,’ but then [they do] nothing when they’re elected. You don’t know who to trust anymore.”

When asked what it was like to live near the Madigans, another neighbor responded with a laugh, noting: “You could always count on the streets to be plowed.”

As night fell, a light could be seen in only one room of the two-story house. As Madigan remained inside, he released a written statement rejecting the charges.

“I was never involved in any criminal activity,” the statement read. “The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations. That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded.”

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