Monday, May 21, 2007

A New Beginning for Chicago

Yesterday, I got a call from an excited friend. Did you know that there's a Starbucks at the corner of Western and Howard, she asked. It's not in the 50th Ward, but still, she said.

It's a metaphor. There's a significant contrast between an alderman who's aggressive about bringing in new business to his ward and one who makes prospective new businessmen wait four months before he allows them to go forward with the necessary paperwork. For those who go apoplectic at the thought of Joe Moore or the 49th Ward, this contrast holds with the wards to the south and west of us, as well.

Today marks the beginning of the new Chicago City Council. Instead of fresh leadership, someone who has the energy and vision to bring in, say a Starbucks or something, to the 50th, we have what the Capital Fax calls a "broken down warhorse."

Let's call him the Mayor's poodle.

Berny Stone is very well trained.

But what is exciting today is not the swearing in of nine new members to the city council. It needed some fresh blood. We got a big infusion. What is exciting is that there is now a support system in the city council for political independence. Those who have opposed the machine, or allied themselves with outside forces (like Congressman Jesse Jackson), now have reinforcements. A lot of them. While those won't necessarily bring their machinations out into the public, it promises to make city governance more interesting.

The political dinosaurs, like Ald. Stone, will try to paint the newbies as deeply indebted to the Unions. But it's more complicated than that. Sandi Jackson (7th Ward), likely to emerge as the voice of the class of 2007, is bright and energetic, and comes with her own power center and an agenda on ethics reform. Who could be against that? It will be interesting to see who contests William Beavers for Democratic committeeman in February. The Beavers and the Stones have a lot in common.

Brendan Reilly, who replaced Berny's mentor in the 42nd, comes with an equally powerful resume. CFL President Dennis Gannon takes credit for muscling out a third opponent (much like SEIU tried to do with Naisy Dolar). But with ties to Michael Madigan, he will balance a lot of demands. Reilly is certainly one to watch, because he will be a force in the city council, and maybe even the city, in the future.

Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward) also had Union backing, but he brought in his own money made as a personal injury attorney. Like Jackson, he can be expected to carry the Union's water, when he wants to. Still, Fioretti's thought to have quite the ego, so he might not take too well to being considered a Union puppet. Representing a historically black ward might bring it's own tensions.

Then there's Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward). SEIU jumped on this unexpected bandwagon, in his run-off against a CFL-backed incumbent. Waguespack could easily be considered the wild card in the new city council. His issues are familiar: he ran as a reformer with a promise for community-based zoning and better constituent services.

Retired CPD sargent Willie Cochran rode the wave of voter dissatisfaction with a scandal-plagued incumbent (Arenda Troutman) in the 20th Ward. He'll bring his own perspective to the council, but it's unlikely he'll do the Union's bidding against his own better judgment.

Sharon Denise Dixon seems to owe more to Congressman Jesse Jackson than the Unions. Like Waguespack, both Dixon and the incumbent won Union backing in this 24th Ward race. This race seemed to be below the radar, but Jackson's organization took a keen interest in this westside ward. Dixon will be supportive of the Union agenda, but she's no poodle!

The Union Ladies, Pat Dowell in the 3rd, Toni Folkes in the 15th, and Joann Thompson in the 16th, were all well-financed and -staffed by Union supporters. They can be counted on to bring worker's issues to the council and defend the Union Label. But they represent only a third of the fresh faces being installed today.

What does this mean? I've looked around, and there doesn't seem to be much speculation about this. Berny Stone, per usual, has embarrassed us all advising them to "keep your mouth shut and your ears open." We don't know how the Mayor will react to this first real challenge. Does this end the myth of "one-stop shopping," which the Mayor liked to convey? Is nine (or ten or so) independent voices enough to bring real independence to the city council? I doubt it. We won't see a re-occurrence of "Council Wars," but I suspect that the city council will be more lively, despite Stone's rude advice. I also expect Mayor Daley to try to seduce many of these new members. He's done it before.

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12 Comments:

At May 21, 2007 11:14 AM, Blogger Hugh said...

today is pomp & circumstance

you couldn't hold off 3 days, til after Wednesday, after the frosh go on record on actual issues, to announce the Dawning of a New Day?

 
At May 21, 2007 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Stone may a disgusting remark. No doubt his supporters will hold it up as a sign of his great wisdom and achievement as a public statesman. Too bad Naisy Dolar couldn't be taking her rightful place on the Council!

 
At May 21, 2007 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes today was the day .
Naisy Dolar
Please raise your right hand and repeat the following words.
I will not be sworn in today because i Lost the election to the better candidate.
AHHHHHH Too Bad Naisy !!
She is in her rightful place at her home where she never leaves. Naisy is never involved in the community nor has been before the election. She has done a great job fooling everyone during the election. LOL

 
At May 21, 2007 8:23 PM, Anonymous Berny's always missing in action said...

I've lived in the ward since 1990 and never saw Stone anywhere. His minions did call once to electioneer when he was running scared because the election was so close.

By contrast, I've ssen Naisy Dolar all over the place, for example, she was at a recent CAPS meeting, providing some good info.

 
At May 21, 2007 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Stone was the better candidate, the 50th Ward is done for!

 
At May 21, 2007 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one can see,Hugh is now against the new aldermen because they are now INCUMBENTS.Hugh doesn't just hate specific incumbents,he hates all ELECTED OFFICIALS.So, what does that say?----That Hugh appears to be an ANARCHIST!

 
At May 21, 2007 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" She is in her rightful place at her home where she never leaves."

This is typical of the Stone camp. . .nothing better to do than to keep up on Naisy's whereabouts. The Stone camp likes to intimidate by letting people know they are checking up on them. . .its disgusting, but its to be expected.

 
At May 22, 2007 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JS,
On behalf of the 50th Ward you are Fired..how is that for a new beginning

 
At May 22, 2007 10:16 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Thanks. Now I can spend more time on this blog, a purely volunteer activity.

 
At May 22, 2007 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay said...
Thanks. Now I can spend more time on this blog, a purely volunteer activity.

May 22, 2007 10:16 AM

I thought Sam Zell who bought the Tribune Company was goingto buy you out and shut this place down for a starbucks

 
At May 22, 2007 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berny's always missing in action said...
I've lived in the ward since 1990 and never saw Stone anywhere. His minions did call once to electioneer when he was running scared because the election was so close.

By contrast, I've ssen Naisy Dolar all over the place, for example, she was at a recent CAPS meeting, providing some good info.

May 21, 2007 8:23 PM

Because he isworking at City Hall. Dolar is unemployed.

 
At May 23, 2007 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but Stone should also be out and about in the ward as well as at city hall. And by the way, I saw Dolar on nights and weekends during the time that she was working.

As for Stone working at city hall, can ya really call it work when you are napping?

 

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