My irregular musings on city life, politics, baseball, roller derby, and whatever happens to be getting my goat today.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ready for Reform?

No, this blog is not "on hiatus" or anything like that. I'm just writing something really long, and I don't have much time to work on it on my lunch break or anything, so it's taking several days to put together. But I promise it will be something good enough to start a fight or two with, anyway.

Speaking of starting fights, there was something strange about the article in the Chicago Tribune Magazine on Sunday about former Mayor Jane Byrne. The article claimed to be re-examining her rise and fall, and explored whether her own temperament was responsible for her downfall, or whether it was sexism among the press corps and the power elite. The strange thing, of course, was that the entire article failed to mention Harold Washington, the man who actually defeated her at the ballot box and succeeded her as Mayor. Mentioning Washington would have brought up a third explanation for the brevity of her stay at city hall. Byrne says she turned away from reform and collaborated with the "evil cabal" of the Democratic machine, including "The Eddies," Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th) and Ald. Edward Burke (14th), in order to get things done. But is it any wonder that the liberals, independents and African Americans who had backed her run for office felt betrayed, and turned to a man who might actually do what she had promised and take on the Machine? Washington is remembered as the city's first black mayor, but what he should be remembered for is facing down the machine in the council wars, bringing transparency to city government, and ending the corrupt practice of hiring political operatives as perennial temporary city employees in exchange for their delivering votes in their precincts. While Chicago still has a long way to go to clean itself up, replacing political hacks with a unionized professional workdforce was a good start.

Maybe Chicago was ready for reform, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another similar thing might be happening in Los Angeles: LA might not ever have another Black Mayor because of the relentless settling of formally African American areas of the City by Central American immigrants.
Since 1990 the Census shows that half of the AA population has relocated to other areas.
Miguel Mena