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Politics

Feud in the Greek-American Community Due to Vallas Loss

March 12, 2019
Matina Demelis and Anastasis Koutsogiannis

CHICAGO – A feud began in the Greek-American community in Chicago after the election loss of Paul Vallas, who was running for mayor of the city.

It all started when John Kass, a journalist with Greek heritage at the Chicago Tribune, blamed local Greeks for not helping elect Vallas.

Kass called out two people in particular on his “Chicago Way” podcast on WGN radio: Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), and Maria Pappas, the Cook County Treasurer. He referred to them as a “nightmare.”
“I’ll just say their first names: Endy and Maria. They’ll know who I’m talking about,” he said.

The feud continued on social media – and especially on Twitter. Georgia Logothetis, a longtime contributor to the liberal Daily Kos website and also a member of HALC wrote, “I though the Oscars are over, I think Kass’ overblown, faux righteous indignation at “traitors” of fellow Greeks should have won him Best Actor in his Own Drama.”

She added, “I tried to find [Kass’] column chastising Vallas when Vallas chose to endorse David Hoffman over fellow Greek Alexi Giannoulias in the [2010] Senate race, but came up empty.” In a later tweet she continued, “So all of this leaves us with one pressing question: is it possible for John Kass to give himself the Moutza of the Month?”

Zemenides spoked to TNH after the conflagration began.

“I, along with many others, didn’t support Paul Vallas for many reasons. First of all, I believe he is an “a la carte” Greek. He remembers the community and his Greek heritage only when he is a candidate. Second, when Greeks run for federal positions, we support the ones that have Greek issues in their agenda. And the third reason is because in 2010 Vallas and Kass didn’t support Alexi Giannoulias and when Maria Pappas was running against Obama in 2004, Vallas didn’t support her. It is nice to say that we support our country and our people but Greece is not represented in just one candidate. Finally, I never called those who didn’t support Alexi in 2010 a “nightmare.”

About Kass calling Georgia Logothetis a “dog,” Zemenides said, “Mr. Kass was attacked by a woman and look how he reacted.”
Kass’ tweet reads: “The Ephialtes Twins are angry. The[y] send out their dogs to bark at me on Twitter. But that changes nothing. They talk of #Greeks sticking together. But they know what they did. ‘Ephialtes, may you live forever.’ It’s all here, on the Chicago Way.”
Zemenides mentioned how Vallas and Kass react when Greek politicians travel to the United States, and more specifically, Chicago. He said, “Two years ago, the Prime Minister of Greece came to our city. Before that, ministers Kikilias, Avramopoulos, and Anastasiadis also came to meet with the Greek community. Neither Vallas nor Kass showed up to these events for Greece. In the past we supported other Greek-Americans like Sianis, Pappas, and Saltouros. They were always active in the Greek community and were always present.”
Paul Vallas got 5.5% of the vote and finished 9th among 14 candidates for the position of the mayor.

Chicago Magazine recently wrote that one of Vallas’ flaws was that he didn’t have enough money for advertising on television.
In April, residents of Chicago will cast their votes for either of two women candidates and thus elect the first female African-American mayor of the city. The two candidates are: Lori Lightfoot who received 17.5% of the votes and Toni Preckwinkle who received 16%.

TNH tried to speak with John Kass, but he did not reply.

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