Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Real Power in Chicago

Mayor Richard Daley has gathered enough power to the Fifth Floor that he talks about "one stop" shopping for business and interest groups who want to do something in Chicago. This is a bit of a misnomer. Daley is clearly the major power center in Chicago, but he's not the only one.

There are other "power centers" in city hall, people who have power and influence independent of Daley. They don't include Ald. Stone.

Berny Stone is the Mayor's poodle. Stone owes everything to da Mayor.

Stone has made much of being the "Vice Mayor," an honorific that has gone to aldermen in their second terms, not (usually) their eighth. This position is usually a stepping stone to something much more powerful, not a final destination. The Vice Mayor's position has no power, no influence on the direction of the city (even if the Mayor died in office). But it fits Stone's inflated sense of himself and someone has to fill the position anyway.

Then there are the powers of the Chicago City Council. Stone is one of 19 committee chairman, but he's not one of the powerful committee chairs. Those go to people who really count in the council chambers.

Only one, Ed Burke, was elected before Stone. Another, Ike Carothers, is only in his third term as alderman. If Stone has age on all of them, these people are considered to be the wise in the council.

Ed Burke (first elected 1969) chairs the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is widely acknowledged as the most powerful committee in the City Council. Stone sits on this committee.

Carrie Austin (1994) was just elevated to chair the Budget Committee. As the linked story indicates, the Budget Committee is considered the second most powerful committee in the city council. Stone also sits on this committee. No one thought he was in line to assume its powerful chairmanship.

Ike Carothers (1999) is the chair of the Police and Fire Committee. It only took Carothers two years to be elevated to it's chairman, appointed by Daley in 2001. Now that's clout.

William Banks (1983) is the chair of the Zoning Committee. Stone also sits on this committee.

Finally, Richard Mell (1975) chairs the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics. Stone also sits on this committee.

These are the powerhouses in the Chicago City Council, the people who have gained power and stature by knowing the rules and procedures (independent off their staffs) and using them effectively to get what they want. These are the people before whom city workers tremble if they get called unexpectedly. (City workers outside the 50th Ward just "laugh it off" if Berny Stone says something cross to them.)

Stone may be the oldest member of the Chicago City Council. But he's hardly gathered power or influence in his years, as its second longest-serving member.

But at least he's the Mayor's poodle. That's something.

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33 Comments:

At May 23, 2007 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay
You are the poodle, you will bend over and take it, and like it.

 
At May 23, 2007 4:07 PM, Blogger Hugh said...

> ... the Budget Committee is considered the second most powerful committee in the city council.

I disagree with Ms. Spielman's assessment of the Budget committee as 2nd most powerful. One of the first things Daley II did was take the job of writing the budget away from the legislative branch. Nowadays Daley's Office of Budget & Management writes the budget and the City Council's Budget Committee and the full City Council rubber stamp it.

 
At May 23, 2007 4:11 PM, Blogger Hugh said...

A more informative way to rank-order the City Council Committee is not power per se but more specifically EARNING POWER. Ask yourself, which committees have the steadiest stream of money interests parading in front of them?

1. Finance (public subsidies, contracts)

2. Zoning (developers)

3. Buildings (contractors, building owners, unions)

Stone is well positioned to EARN.

 
At May 23, 2007 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AGAIN,Hugh draws readers to FALSE CONCLUSIONS ,with the inference ,once more,that ALL Incumbents are guilty of something, assuming that readers will perceive his wild assumptions as a basic fact ,just as it is a basic fact that the sun rises in the east.

 
At May 24, 2007 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with Hugh's non-stop obsession with Stone? Did he used to date Ilana in the 70's or have a crush on her or something? It's really bizarre.

 
At May 24, 2007 8:09 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Hugh, by changing a power and influence index (which is what Ald. Stone argues that he has) for a corruption index (which he argues that he is not) does nothing to inform. I am disputing the perception that Stone has actual power in Chicago (not just the 50th Ward). Seniority is supposed to matter in Chicago, but Stone's seniority gets him nothing but minor assignments. You may not care about that, but the potential for making money via corruption still requires that they actually be corrupt. It does not require that they have real power. Minions can be corrupt, too, they just can't demand as much for it.

As for those commenters who follow Hugh: did you ever take a civics class? Acting as an informed citizen shouldn't be considered an obsession. It should be treated as natural, what is expected of all of us.

 
At May 24, 2007 10:06 AM, Blogger Hugh said...

We are in agreement that Stone promulgates a highly distorted view of his influence, stressing his seniority, his Vice mayoralty, and his committee chair.

Meanwhile, Stone has GREAT power under Illinois state law, which he does not exercise.
Stone is an alderman.

On paper he and his colleagues have the power of the purse strings. Daley can do nothing without them.

Also, if he so chose, he could hold hearings and subpoena members of the executive branch to testify, say, for example, oh, I don't know, the growing cadre of recently indicted corrupt building inspectors? But no.

 
At May 24, 2007 10:15 AM, Blogger Hugh said...

As I said, I disagree with Ms. Spielman's characterization of Budget as 2nd most powerful. On paper, maybe, but in practice, sorry.

> Stone's seniority gets him nothing but minor assignments.

I must also disagree with your characterization of Buildings as minor. Believe me, it is a plum. Look at Stone's contributions from the building owners, the trades, and developers.

It is no coincidence that Burke and Banks have the 2 most massive war chests in City Council. Each has more dough than Daley! Burke and Banks are essentially immune from challenge.

Power means nothing unless you can retain it. Money allows you to hold office. Money is power.

 
At May 24, 2007 10:19 AM, Blogger Hugh said...

> ... one of the powerful committee chairs ...

> Ike Carothers (1999) is the chair of the Police and Fire Committee.

The Police & Fire chair is fairly visible, but most would not include it on a short list of most powerful City Council committees. It just does not have the earning power. The police & fire unions are about it, and even they tend to go direct to Daley with their political expression.

 
At May 24, 2007 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Acting as an informed citizen shouldn't be considered an obsession."

This goes beyond that. Hugh's single focus obsession with Stone appears to be his sole reason for living. If Stone had been defeated, I don't know what Hugh would have done with his time. Some people are malcontents by nature.

 
At May 24, 2007 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay
I guess you really don't know how politics really works. Its not always the Power, The alderman ask for a committee they would like to chair. Stone did not ask to be the head of these committees.

 
At May 24, 2007 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hugh is a propagandist who attempts to disguise himself as an "informed" citizen. By taking public records and putting non-existent meanings, slanderous allegations ,and fictional scenarios accompanying the public records ,the only thing Hugh proves, is that he is a very accomplished liar and spin artist.

 
At May 24, 2007 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

semi-literate Anonymous said..."I guess you really don't know how politics really works. Its not always the Power, The alderman ask for a committee they would like to chair. Stone did not ask to be the head of these committees."

So what are you trying to say? Stone isn't Finance or Zoning chair because he doesn't want to be? Are you saying he has power but doesn't want to reveal it by being too prominent on the Council?

 
At May 24, 2007 2:02 PM, Blogger Jay said...

It's a silly contention. If Ald. Stone had respect or power in the City Council -- which, by virtue of his seniority, he has every right to -- then he wouldn't need to exaggerate the power he has.

 
At May 24, 2007 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay
Where are you coming from??
I cannot say I have heard the Alderman exaggerate the power he has. Where in the Media have you seen him say anything about his power? You idiots are all saying how much power Stone has. You all must truly believe he has power or you would not be talking about it. Let it go, it is what it is. You little people cannot change a thing, nor can you false accusations.

 
At May 24, 2007 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again,Hugh is being asked:Why this constant obsession with Stone? It is beyond being a political opponent. It is obvious that HATING Stone is a central focus of Hugh's life.Why,Hugh?

 
At May 24, 2007 4:36 PM, Blogger Jay said...

What nonsense! Ald. Stone is a public servant. He is, and will continue to be, scrutinized by the public.

No one would say a word if Stone didn't have something to hide. The more that Stone's minions try to stop the public from knowing what our public servants are doing, and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent, the more that people like Hugh will follow whatever leads they develop.

The silliest thing is to contend that somehow the public record lies and shouldn't be made public! You know you're on the wrong side of logic (and, quite frankly, democracy) when you start arguing that the public record is lying about Berny Stone!

 
At May 24, 2007 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay,both you and Hugh are Master Propagandists working in tandem.You "just assume" that protesting the distortion of the public record means there is something to hide;this is twisted ,perverted,and libelous.The fact is you and Hugh have much in common,Jay ,and frankly you're both not the most popular neighbors on your respective blocks for obvious reasons.

 
At May 24, 2007 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stone has nothing to hide. You are rite. You all can post and inform all you want there are only a few idiots that read and respond to this blog to begin with. Look here are 17 posts now, 5 are from Hugh and 3 from Jay that leaves 9 other idiots including me that read and posted. Have a great life!!

 
At May 25, 2007 12:30 AM, Anonymous Morrissey said...

Just heard one of the world's great guitar songs on the radio, "How soon is now" by the Smiths, and I swear, Morrissey must have been writing about Bernie Stone's endless promises:

"When you say it's gonna happen 'now'
Well, when exactly do you mean?
See, I've already waited too long
And all my hope is gone."

 
At May 25, 2007 11:57 AM, Blogger Hugh said...

> Have a great life!!

Thanks!

please tell me this is your last post?

 
At May 25, 2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come no one is talking about the meeting the other night. I heard Stone was rude to everyone and Naisy stood up and called him on it. I also heard he told her she didn't belong in the community. Is this true?

 
At May 25, 2007 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:37 anon: I bet ur the most poopular naybore on YOUR block,rite???Am I riteLOL???Are you thareLOL???Izitwensdayet....
sined, anuther idiot

 
At May 25, 2007 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> a very accomplished liar

what, you think Stone has the market cornered on lying?

lying should be left to the professionals?

 
At May 25, 2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brethren,

Let us pray for the conversion of Alderman Stone. It is clear that his rudeness is attributable to the fact that he doesn't know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. As a Messianic Rabbi, I was once like that too. BUT JESUS CHRIST HAS RESCUED ME AND HE CAN RESCUE BERNIE AND JAY AND ALL OTHER UNBELIEVERS AND UNREPETANT SINNERS IN THE 50TH WARD.

Wishing You a Happy Memorial Day-

Rabbi Neal Wendrow
Midwest Messianic Jewish Center
Dolton, Illinois

 
At May 26, 2007 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The HATE goes on-are you proud that you posted Wendrow's Anti-Semitic screed??!!How could you give him a forum to spout hatred?

 
At May 26, 2007 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

I spoke with Mr. Stone briefly during my recent visit to Chicago. We spoke frankly of his spiritual crisis. I listened and invited him to join us this summer in the mountains of Tibet. I believe a separation from his earthy possessions which surround him in his life here would be of great benefit to him spiritually. Also, switching to a macrobiotic diet would no doubt benefit his health and attitude.

Yours truly,
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

 
At May 26, 2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neal Wendrow and "his" SHAM group either don't exist(meaning some BIGOT is using the name to spread hatred)or have made a Real effort to be invisible ,except to post occasionally, mixing ANTI-SEMITISM with politics. Do your own searches! Have you ever seen an INVISIBLE Proseletyzing group."Wendrow" is a HATE-MONGER-PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At May 26, 2007 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now the Dalai Lama? This is becoming comedy. Somone posts a link and signs it "The Dalai Lama" ,and of course, with your hatred of Stone, you post it;the same as the "Wendrow" post.Stone's re-election is driving the Stone haters to INSANITY!lmao

 
At May 29, 2007 11:47 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Over the weekend, someone asked: "How could you give him [Wendrow] a forum to spout hatred?"

I have to admit that I am very uncomfortable with his posting. This is the only one (out of three) that I've permitted, because it was potentially "on topic." I could think of no reason to reject it, within the guidelines that I've established. His first post I rejected because it was utterly condescending, to both the alderman and Jews. The second I allowed, after some thought, hoping that having said his piece, he would go away. The third post I rejected but it was repetitive.

I completely disagree with the tone and intent of the post, but I couldn't think of a reason to reject it. If you can think of a new guideline that would have given me a reason to reject it, I'd be interested in hearing it. You can't suggest "No religious content" because I'd have to modify some of my posts. Religion is a factor in our politics here in the 50th. Let's not pretend otherwise.

 
At May 29, 2007 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference in religious content and proselytizing which is what "Wendrow"does;do a google search for him or his organization in Dolton-they do not exist;do a people search,he doesn't show up in the entire country. so,WHO is Wendrow ,really- we know what he is-an ANTI-SEMITE!

 
At May 31, 2007 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW

there sure are a lot of anti-Semites!

they're behind every bush!

 
At June 01, 2007 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and in too many bungalows

 

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