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Challenging Daley

"I thought the patronage was an institutional theft of city resources.
- Leon Despres, April 2005

In 2005, former Ald. Leon Despres published Challenging the Daley Machine, his memoir of opposing the reign of Richard J. Daley. He once said of the book, "I am describing the last of the great urban political machines in America and the birth of a new globalized political machine with its permanent campaign and high-tech politics and government, but with the same old-fashioned patronage, nepotism, and corruption which characterized the first Daley Machine."

Among the highlights:

* "The [43rd] ward's Democratic committeeman, Alderman Mathias 'Paddy' Bauler, the boss of the precinct captains gathered in the room, made his famous pronouncement to the Chicago Tribune city hall reporter Edward Schreiber.

"'Chicago ain't ready for a reform mayor,' he said.

"Schreiber later personally acknowledged to me that he had changed the quotation to 'Chicago ain't ready for reform.'"

* "Chicago was then, as it usually is, burdened with problems and uncertainty. It was governed by a political machine that depended for office on its political patronage. The Democratic organization had about thirty thousand jobs in various offices, which it could fashion into a strong political army. If a patronage worker failed to deliver votes, he or she lost his job or title. In the election campaign, I had just come up against the ardor of that patronage army, which had fought to return me full-time to my law office. The political machine in Chicago tolerated considerable corruption and pursued its enemies relentlessly."

* "The Chicago Tribune conducted a retrospective survey in 1999 showing that over a fourty-four-year span that included the twenty-one years of Richard J. Daley's mayoralty as well as nine years of his son's (Richard M. Daley), sixty-eight relatives had served on the public payroll."

* "The [workers] viewed the party as their true employer. They realized they had been hired by a committeeman, were protected in their jobs by him, and could be [fired] by the same individual at any time for any reason or for none. Consequently, the individual lived under the lash of patronage and felt almost immune from his or her superior on the job."

* "City Treasurer Morris Sachs observed that, if one employee out of thirty-five can get along without working, the example is not lost on the other thirty-four. Promotions, transfers, and standards were subject to partisan political influence. The city government did not fall. Rather, the quality of city government was impaired. As mayor, Daley was interested in running the city. As chairman [of the party], he wanted patronage to win elections. Was this a conflict of interest? Decidedly so. The quality of work for the city deteriorated as the Machine became more and more efficient."

* "It took me a good period of time to see that partisan patronage was a hemorrhage of city energy. It was an embezzlement of public funds for the benefit of an election army . . . the great defect in Chicago government operations was the patronage system itself. I prepared a careful but dramatic memorandum detailing the extent of partisan appointments in city employment. It carefully estimated the annual waste of $40 million, detailed the impairment of city government, and used those facts as the basis for criticism of the budget."


Have the rules changed? Are we now criminalizing politics?

Despres wrote that after Shakman, "[t]he almost totalitarian control of the municipality through patronage employees is no longer legal."

Hence, Sorich.

Though the current Daley hasn't yet gotten the news.


Challenging the Daley Machine as told by its chapter titles:

Foreword/Mike Royko

1. The Precinct Captains Celebrate Richard J. Daley's Election
2. An Accidental Alderman Is Elected
3. My Beloved Hyde Park: Home For Ninety-Three Years
4. Urban Nature At My Doorstep
5. I Am Told What To Expect In The City Council
6. Ending The Sale Of Driveway Peromits: My First Victory
7. Richard J. Daley: An Overrated Powerhouse
8. Saving The City's Outdoor Museum
9. The Rot Of Political Patronage
10. Getting Reelected: An Even Tougher Battle
11. Sparring With Daley
12. I Get Shot
13. Our City's Basic Problem
14. An Endless Fight For Equality
15. Chicago Children Die From Lead Poisoning
16. Council Colleagues Go To Prison
17. Daley's Police Spy On Me
18. Seeking Equal Treatment For Women
19. My Secret Weapon
20. Twenty Years Come To An End
21. Parliamentarian And Member Of The Chicago Plan Commission

1. City Watchdog Calling It Quits
2. The Most Segregated City In The North - Chicago
3. The Lone 'Negro' Spokesman In Chicago's City Council
4. A Report On City Of Chicago Employment Discrimination Against Women
5. The Despres Papers


Posted on August 12, 2007

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BOOKS - All About Poop.


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