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To the editors:
I am a lakefront resident of the 46th Ward and supported Nancy Kaszak in the February 24 race for alderman. Unfortunately, Nancy was not successful in her bid for elective office so I, and several thousand other Kaszak supporters, must now choose between the two candidates that did make it to the April 7 runoff, Helen Shiller and Jerome Orbach.
In his March 20 letter to you, Ron Kool suggests that my choice should be Jerry Orbach because Orbach has demonstrated a flair for painting and has mounted his ubiquitous campaign posters with “easily removable tape.” However, a comparison of the two 46th Ward aldermanic candidates based on slightly more substantive issues has caused me to now support, as I believe most other Kaszak supporters now do, Helen Shiller.
During the last four years Orbach has been more concerned with supporting Alderman Vrdolyak than the interests of his constituents. Orbach voted with the Vrdolyak bloc over 95 percent of the time, including a vote against a major bond offering that would have resulted in significant improvements being made in the 46th Ward. What kind of alderman ignores the needs of his own constituents just to take a swipe at the mayor?
Orbach has also been ineffective and nonresponsive when it’s come to providing basic city services like filling potholes and towing abandoned cars. It is bad enough when these problems go uncorrected but it is even worse when the alderman continually provides no explanation for his lack of assistance.
It is not surprising that building owner Mr. Kool supports Orbach. Four years ago, the Chicago Tribune withdrew its endorsement of Orbach when it was discovered that he had accepted substantial campaign contributions from slumlords. This time around, Orbach has received over $12,000 in political contributions from real estate speculators. One has to wonder what the quid for that $12,000 quo will be if Orbach is reelected.
Even when Orbach does what is objectively the correct thing his motives’ seem suspect. For example, he brags about helping to plan a new library for the 46th Ward. Yet, he appeared to be more interested in having the library across the street from his ward office than in seeing that the ward got the most library for its money.
Orbach also voted for the ethics and gay rights ordinances. However, both votes seemed to be based solely on political expediency rather than on a belief that his position was truly the right one. Orbach helped bottle the ethics ordinance up in committee for years and he failed to convince any members of the Vrdolyak bloc to vote for the gay rights ordinance despite the virtually unwavering support Orbach provided them.
Given this record of failure, Orbach’s opponent does not have a difficult time convincing me that it is time for a change in the 46th Ward. Nevertheless, the ward is lucky to have a qualified candidate running against Orbach. Helen Shiller is articulate, bright, and energetic. Her efforts on behalf of some of the most disadvantaged residents of the ward have shown her commitment to the 46th Ward and will help her to deal with all residents’ problems. Her plans for area input on new construction projects and for studying the ward’s sewers are badly needed. It is a pity these programs were not in place before Orbach enthusiastically pushed for the construction of the new high rise at Pine Grove and Waveland. We still do not know what effect this building will have on the area’s sewers, parking, and public transportation but things do not look good.
Perhaps most important, Helen will be able to work with Mayor Washington, who it now appears will be easily reelected. It makes much more sense for the 46th Ward to have a friend in the mayor’s office rather than a foe to be fought at every turn.
In sum, the 46th Ward needs a new alderman and Helen Shiller will make a good one. Besides, if Orbach is retired from the City Council, he will have more time to take down his easily removable signs.
David E. Schroeder
N. Lake Shore Drive