- Brian Jackson/Sun-Times
- At least one person in this photo has a definite challenger (hint: it’s Alderman Pat O’Connor).
I got a call the other day from a political junkie I’ll call Tom Keane—in honor of one of my favorite alderman.
That would be Alderman Keane of the 31st Ward, who ruthlessly ruled the City Council in the 50s and 60s under the principle that Chicago’s a fixed system run by the mighty for the mightier.
And the best an ordinary citizen can hope for is a garbage can and a paved street.
The tenet still holds—without the paved streets, alas.
Anyway, my friend the political junkie said he had something really cool to show me, so . . .
I ran over to a local watering hole, where we knocked back a few beers and he showed me the detailed cheat sheet he was putting together for the upcoming aldermanic elections.
OK, I sense that most of you are not nearly as thrilled as I was by a cheat sheet for an election that’s still five months away.
That’s because you live interesting and well-balanced lives. In fact, you’re probably, at this moment, plowing through the tomes on Mayor Rahm’s list of favorite books.
Hey, someone’s got to read them—’cause we all know Mayor Rahm hasn’t.
In any event, my friend, Mr. Keane, has spent the better part of the last few weeks steadfastly surveying the Internet, keeping track of press releases, Facebook postings, and other announcements by anyone thinking of running for alderman in our 50 wards.
He’s planning to eventually publish the tip sheet with the following epigraph: “Information is power—and you’re not getting any.”
That’s something the real Alderman Keane—for years the council’s budget chair—allegedly told independents when they asked about the budget.
My Mr. Keane gave me a rough draft of his cheat sheet, which was like leaving me alone in a room filled with plates of fried chicken. I couldn’t stop indulging.
A few points to consider—the ward boundaries themselves are bizarrely drawn configurations obviously gerrymandered to protect the incumbency of aldermen who probably shouldn’t have been elected in the first place.
I know I’ve mentioned this in the past in relation to the amoeba-shaped Second Ward , which was configured not so much to protect an incumbent as to punish one.
That incumbent is, of course, Alderman Bob Fioretti, who was being punished for the high crime of daring to vote against some of the mayor’s dumber ideas.
In the category of good news . . .
It looks as though this time around 40th Ward alderman Pat O’Connor—who’s been in office since the ice age—will at least have an opponent.
Her name is Dianne Daleiden, and she even has a website.
Here’s hoping she can survive the inevitable signature challenge from Alderman O’Connor’s election lawyers.
OK, look, 40th Ward voters, I’m not telling you how to vote, but, think about this . . .
Alderman O’Connor routinely champions the mayor’s ideas, like the parking meter deal, and Mayor Rahm’s still done a terrible job of paving your streets.
So it might be a good time to at least ask yourself what exactly you get out of the Emanuel/O’Connor political arrangement.
Hold it! Breaking news. The city’s has finally repaved Ravenswood just north of Foster!
Of course, it was only repaved after I bitched and moaned about its sorry state. Proving that I have more clout in Chicago than the mayor’s City Council floor leader.
Back to the cheat sheet . . .
At the moment, no one’s running against my old pal, 47th Ward alderman Ameya Pawar.
That’s because, Alderman Pawar—despite his generally pro-Rahm voting record—remains one of the most eminently likable elected officials in captivity. As Mayor Washington might have put it.
In fact, in an admittedly informal and unscientific survey, I’ve been asking North Center voters what they most like about life. The top three vote-getters, in ascending order, are: Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, and Alderman Pawar!
On the other hand, the streets of Pawar’s ward are almost as poorly paved as O’Connor’s.
Proving that in Chicago politics—as in beauty contests—likability will only get you so far.
Let aldermania begin!