On Monday Sandi Jackson, wife of Jesse Jackson Jr., filed her nominating petitions to run against newly installed alderman Darcel Beavers in the Seventh Ward, telling the Sun-Times she might endorse Mayor Daley in February’s election.
“There is no feud between the Jacksons and the Daleys. I think that’s largely a media creation,” Jackson said. “I think he [Mayor Daley] has done a great job. I’d just like to see what he’s doing downtown moved farther south.”
Now, I know we media people have our faults, but you can hardly blame the press for creating the perception that Jesse Jackson Jr. has been critical of Mayor Daley. While openly toying with running against him for the last year, Jackson’s routinely ripped the mayor for everything from the demolition of Meigs Field to cost overruns at Millennium Park. (Let’s not even get into Peotone.) Even when Jackson announced this fall that he wouldn’t run against Daley, he larded his speech with attacks on the mayor.
Why the change of tune? Again, Sandi Jackson’s running for alderman. And it appears that not even the wife of one of the mayor’s most vociferous opponents dares to run as an anti-Daley candidate. Generally aldermanic candidates either endorse Daley or endorse no one. It’s a variation on the tactic employed by Cook County commissioner Tony Peraica in his race against Todd Stroger for president of the county board. Peraica rarely criticized Daley or his brother, commissioner John Daley, because he didn’t want to alienate the legions of Daley cultists who apparently believe the mayor is responsible for all that’s right about Chicago. In effect even candidates running as reformers pretend that the man in charge during years of scandals and rising taxes does not exist.
Once in office, aldermen get even wimpier. They start talking about how they have to go along to get along and win goodies for their wards (as if the mayor’s going to order Streets and San to stop collecting garbage if they vote against his budget–though come to think of it, maybe he would). And so they continue to look the other way.
No one other than Jesse Jackson Jr. himself put it best during a WLS interview with Don and Roma. “The biggest scandal isn’t just [hired] trucks. It isn’t just towing. It isn’t just the Duff family, and it isn’t the foul stench that takes place at O’Hare with respect to contracts,” he said. “It is the fact that we get 50 City Council members that we pay $100,000 a year to–that’s $5 milion a year–and we can never hear criticism when it comes to the budget or anything from any one of them . . . on any scandal.”
If aldermanic candidate Sandi Jackson can’t bring herself to take a strong stand against Daley’s rule, I say it’s about time we do away with the City Council’s authority to exercise legislative oversight. As Jesse Jackson Jr. can tell you, they don’t use it anyway.