Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chicago Pols Get Shafted By Daley -- Poor Them

The Tribune reports on the ongoing Chicago patronage trial:

When Mayor Richard M. Daley geared up for his 1995 re-election campaign, he was not dependent on the Democratic ward organizations that rallied city workers for the political machine of Richard J. Daley a generation ago.

Instead, in Chicago's 50 wards, the campaign installed its own political operatives to get out the vote, according to a map of Daley ward coordinators obtained by the Tribune.

However we might judge the patronage, this strategy shows Daley has imagination and cunning. It reassures me when a politician I wouldn't have voted for shows such a high level of competence and creativity in getting themselves elected. It was really a daring strategy, given the long political traditions of Chicago.
Eleven years later, in federal court this week, the names of many of those same Daley loyalists re-surfaced hundreds of times as the alleged sponsors of applicants for city jobs and promotions in the 1990s.

Even as aldermen and committeemen remain the public faces of political power in Chicago, the true clout belonged to obscure city officials who could marshal their workers to campaign for Daley, judging by a hiring list allegedly kept in the mayor's office.

This is the heart of the charges. Some of the witnesses still close to Daley have protested that however a person got on the hiring list, that person was nonetheless were qualified for whatever job he or she was hired to do. My attitude is that if a crony is qualified to do a job, then it isn't a job the government should be doing.

Here's how one alderman responded to being alienated from the gratifying work of doling out jobs and contracts to his buddies:
"I feel a little cheated."

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