Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Leo Students Witness Politics Old School - Vice President Biden, Governor Quinn, Chicago Labor and Mary Ann Ahern Give a Tutorial

"I talked before about the mess President Obama and I inherited," said Biden. "Pat, I think you inherited almost as big a mess. Pat didn’t complain. He got to work. He passed a law giving small businesses a $2,500 tax credit for every person they’d hire.”

According to the Secret Service, there were about 1,700 people at Tuesday's event. Another 300 people were left outside, unable to get into the event.
Mary Ann Ahern NBC 5.

In that packed hall were six Leo High School students. Hakeem Chatman, who has been leading the Chicago Catholc League in tackles, is a middle linebacker and a superb track athlete ( shot & disc), marvelled at the packed crowd in Chicago Plumbers Hall on West Washington Street, where he and Jeremy Clark, Tevin Craft, Boxer Denzel Howard, Golfer and Scholar Brendan Mahan and Kaylon Rimpson rubbed elbows, hips and rumps with Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Bobby Rush, and the Chicago news media.

Brendan Mahan did a video with Tiger Woods at Beverly Country Club last year - the video was eclipsed by the scandal and has yet to make an appearance. Brendan is a very tuned in young man who reads both Chicago papers back-to-back each day and therefore was able to identify Chicago's political elite.

Congressman Danny K. Davis, who appeared on stage with the Vice President Biden, Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin and Mayor Daley spoke with the six Leo Lions for the better part of hour outside of the packed Union Hall, as Secret Service Agents made safe passage for the Vice President. Brendan engaged the Congressman who was the soul of grace with the young gentlemen bedecked in bright orange Leo Boxing gear.

It was the school colors that attracted the attention of my old pal NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, whose father-in-law is Leo Man Dr. Jimmy Ahern ( Leo '44). Mary Ann put down her microphone and walked down from the TV Press Platform and spoke with the Leo Boxers. Freshman Jeremy Clark spoke with Mary Ann like a seasoned political professional. Mary Ann Ahern gave the guys her journalist's full press asking about their studies and interests and praised Hakeem Chatman's record on the football field. The guys witnessed a genuine news reporter at work - Mary Ann kept her focus on the rally and nevertheless gave the young fellows her attention.

It had been a full day of studies and activities for our guys, but they had all volunteered to witness the arrival of Vice President Biden. The Catholic high school heroes of Gresham dined on cheeseburgers with Boxing Coach Mike Joyce (Leo '86) at the legendary Palace Grill, while Secret Service agents swept the Plumbers Hall prior to the 5PM start of the rally. The Leo Van was given a great parking spot by a Federal Agent who had served under Agent Larry Lynch, recently retired from the Secret Service, who himself had been mentored by the heroic Tim McCarthy the Secret Service Man who save President Reagan.

Leo High School continues to produce great men. These six kids from Chicago's toughest and most dangerous neighborhoods are following in the paths of great Lions. In fact at the table next to the Leo Boxers sat Operating Engineers Local 399's Tom Keatty ( Leo '73) who runs operations for US Equity and was part of that union's huge contingent of supporters for Governor Pat Quinn.

Labor came out in droves - Engineers Locals 150 and 399, Plumbers 130, Pipefitters 597, Electricians 134, Painters, Hoisters and a sea of orange bedecked Laborers.

Vice President Joe Biden tossed the working class warriors slabs of red meat and they ate it up! Joe Biden is in his element among blue collar Americans and told poignant story after story of his father's heroic efforts to feed his family.

When it was time to head back to Leo, I could not have been more proud of the half dozen young gents in my charge. They called to have their parents pick them up at Leo.

I hung out with Hakeem Chatman and the next Golden Gloves Boxing Champ Denzel Howard on 79th Street in front of the statue of Our Lady and the Leo War Memorial. Both young men talked about how comfortable they felt meeting celebrities and national figures. It is no mystery, these kids work at it every day. Doing more than what is expected of one is the common place of great people - it takes practice - and these young gentlemen work at it.

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