In the first years he was mayor, Richard M. Daley didn’t have much black support. He was clearly the beneficiary of the African-American split between Eugene Sawyer and Timothy Evans, and widely dismissed as disastrous evidence of a white backlash against the Harold Washington years. While he didn’t lose that often, Daley frequently had to wage bruising battles to get his plans through the City Council, with some of the fiercest criticism coming from aldermen who would later leave for higher office (Bobby Rush, Danny Davis), go to prison (Virgil Jones), or become one of his buddies (Dorothy Tillman).
So Daley and his political team came up with a new strategy: Bypass the aldermen and work through the clergy. Instead of getting support and granting favors to members of City Council or Democratic committeemen, Daley’s City Hall courted black ministers, seeking their approval for administration policies or at least their appearance at press conferences. At the same time, the city funneled millions of dollars in federal money to the churches for day care and other social service programs, and helped them acquire land for church expansions and parking lots. The pastors, according to a top Daley aide, were viewed as “surrogate aldermen.”
Among the early converts to Daley was the Reverend Lucius Hall, pastor of the First Church of Love and Faith on the south side. Hall was proudly photographed with Daley and endorsed him in his election bids over black candidates. Along the way, his church received thousands of dollars for social service programs, and Hall himself ended up as chairman of the city’s Human Resources Board, which hears appeals from fired or punished city workers.
Last night Fox News Chicago broadcast a revealing investigative piece about Hall, the board, and Frank Coconate [scroll down], a regular poster here (who’s either one of the city’s great political gadflies or a self-promoting nut, depending on your perspective). Some of the numbers were first reported here. You can check it out at: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=4866665&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1.