Bishop Arthur Brazier is an important man. The leader of the Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, Brazier was a civil rights activist and organizer in the 1960s and ’70s, a supporter of Harold Washington in the ’80s, and one of the first and most prominent black ministers to endorse—and contribute to—Mayor Daley after the collapse of the Washington coalition in the early ’90s. A Daley aide once described Brazier and other key black clergy to me as “surrogate aldermen” who could be counted on when the actual officeholders couldn’t—the implication being that he was the real source of power in his community. I never saw any reason to doubt it; when I once wrote a story Brazier didn’t like I received a letter complaining about it from 20th Ward alderman Arenda Troutman.
So it was revealing to find out that Troutman lost Brazier’s support when she moved to hold up a $77 million development in Woodlawn recently. She may survive getting charged with bribery by the feds, and she may not need Brazier’s endorsement to win reelection against a couple of previously unknown candidates, but now that both have happened, I’ve got to think she’s a long shot to hold onto her seat.
I called Troutman’s office last week—several times—to set up an appointment with her. It never happened, but the one time I spoke to her personally she complained that Brazier had not only endorsed her opponent Willie Cochran but had been calling other churches in the ward to align them against her.
Brazier told me this wasn’t true. “I have not called other pastors,” he said. “It’s something I would do, but not something I have done.”
Brazier said Troutman’s decision to pull her support for the development was “outrageous” and “irresponsible” after she’d signed off on it a few weeks ago. “It’s time for her to go,” he said.