Just six months before a re-election bid, Ald. Rick Munoz admitted Monday that he's a recovering alcoholic:
"This last year has been rather difficult for me, in terms of my abuse of alcohol," Munoz said in a follow-up interview Monday with the Tribune. "In May, I came to the conclusion that I needed help. That's when I checked myself into an outpatient rehab clinic."
For nearly five weeks, Munoz was counseled daily, and says he's now going once a week. He also joined Alcoholics Anonymous and said he has remained sober except for a one-day relapse.
Munoz said he drank excessively after work, but not in the mornings and afternoons. He sometimes missed evening meetings and went into work at 9 or 10 a.m., instead of 6 or 7 a.m.
"The disease had affected every aspect of my life," Munoz said. "It affected me professionally, socially and at home. That's why I came to the conclusion that I couldn't continue it and needed help."
If you wanted to be cynical about it, you could say Munoz is simply getting ahead of the story. If he's been going to AA meetings for five weeks, the truth was bound to come out -- and better to confess to a sympathetic audience rather than let your opponent use it against you.
Or let the media dig it up. Y'know, like we did when we did with all that in-depth original research to expose Scott Lee Cohen's shady past. Bueller?
The other way to look at it is that Munoz is earnestly following the AA recovery program. If, like he said, "the disease had affected every aspect of my life," then perhaps Munoz is on step 9: apologizing to all those who were affected by his drinking.
And you could also argue that Munoz will turn this admission into a political advantage. There's a slew of recent studies that say Hispanics are facing an uptick in alcoholism. Munoz already had street cred. Now he could have emotional, everyman appeal.
Just as long as, y'know, he doesn't get videotaped beating someone up again.