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The [Thursday] Papers

"Solis has previously denied being an informant or wearing a recording device for the feds," the Sun-Times reported in its initial article about Ald. Danny Solis wearing a wire on Ald. Ed Burke.

Unexplained, because the Sun-Times is a poorly edited newspaper, is who he denied wearing a wire to, why he was suspected of being a federal informant, and when these denials occurred - over the years or just recently.

But the word seemed to have gotten out before the paper's Fran Spielman broke the story - or the story was broken through her by investigators carefully timing a strategic leak.

"Well aware that rumors were flying around political circles about the undercover role that he played in the Burke scandal," Spielman reported, "Solis arranged for a college visit with his son this week, which is giving him an excuse not to attend Wednesday's City Council meeting, the source said."

The paper seems to have relied on a single source, described as "a source familiar with the matter." That must be a pretty good source.

*

On Wednesday, I wrote a fair amount about how some aldermen reacted to the news of Solis's wire, which they are far more upset by than whatever he and Burke has been up to, given that Solis must have been in a deep jam himself to flip on his old pal. Here's more of our esteemed councilmembers' Trump-like mobspeak:

"Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), the always outspoken Budget Committee Chairman, was suddenly speechless when asked to comment about Solis," the Sun-Times reports.

"Not about Danny. I might cry," Austin said. "You don't do that. You just don't."

Geez, Carrie, do you need to kill someone to get into your gang, too?

*

"Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th) offered a variation on Don Corleone's infamous admonishment to his son in the movie, The Godfather: 'Don't take sides against the family.'

"I try to think that we're a family down here and we all work together. So, I got to say it's probably a little disheartening for me," Harris said.

I like to think we're a family down here, and we work together to protect each other's illegal schemes. So this really bums me out.

*

"Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th, said she was dismayed by the story about Burke and Solis," the Tribune reports.

"I come from a world where we work together side by side," Garza said. "I just never expected that, I really didn't. We're supposed to be colleagues."

Really? What world is that, Fantasyworld?

*

"Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th, said she was 'stunned' and 'a little uncomfortable.'"

"I do want to say that typically we respect each other, we work together, we're a partnership," Harris said.

Imagine you're a victim of an Ed Burke (or Danny Solis) shakedown, and these people are more bothered about the way the perps were caught than by what the perps were doing. Apparently the city council family is the real victim here.

*

"Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, a close City Hall colleague of Solis, said he had heard rumors that Solis may have worn a wire, but said he typically ignores such rumors. He said he had not spoken with Solis about the matter, and the news came as a 'shock.'"

"Geez. I mean, what is the world coming to?" he said, when asked for his reaction to an alderman wearing a wire on another.

What is the world coming to when an alderman can't shake down his constituents in peace? Geez!

"It's visceral," Cardenas said of his reaction and that of his colleagues. "It's pretty upsetting."

Noting his military background, Cardenas said he expects he will be "honorably discharged" when he chooses to leave the council, and not under a cloud or wearing a wire. Asked whether he felt betrayed given his relationship with Solis, Cardenas responded, "I feel disappointed."

Asked whether he feels betrayed by Burke perpetuating the sorry history of city council corruption, Cardenas said, "I don't understand the question." Or he would've.

Also:

*

"We really just need to boil this down to, the council needs full reform," Ald. Scott Waguespack said. "I don't care what those two went after each other on but it's obviously something so bad that the council can no longer wait for reforms we've been pushing. Everybody needs to get on board with that right now, including the mayor."

Thank you! At least one voice of reason in a sea on inanity.

*

To Waguespack's point, from a Spielman "analysis," which I put in quote marks because in typical Spielman style it's not much of an analysis and it's . . . typically weird:

"Emanuel is a close ally of Solis. The mayor said Wednesday he has no idea which mayoral candidate will benefit from the Solis bombshell or what impact the alderman's undercover role will have in building what may well be the biggest political corruption scandal in decades.

"The real question is, not who in the mayor's race gets benefit but whether the changes that people have been clamoring about get addressed - and not just for the campaign," the mayor said.

Rahm is right. It happens.

"This is a wake-up call to everybody that our work on those changes is not done and people are tired of politics as usual. We will see through another set of changes. But the next mayor and city council - regardless of who wins - will have to do a lot of things to earn the public's trust."

1. This is a wake-up call only for those kinds of people who hit snooze 15 times before actually getting up. It's not like this is the first scandal in city council history - just the first wire we know about this year, and it's still January.

2. Rahm's work on changes is not done because Rahm didn't do them. For one thing, he left Burke in charge of the finance committee and Solis in charge of the zoning committee when he replaced Richard M. Daley as mayor. For another thing, every slip of reform made in his administration has come as grudgingly as possible, with as little change as needed to satisfy political pressures and distract us from whatever ethics issue was boiling over at the time.

3. Rahm is king of politics as usual. Please.

*

Further:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced new ethics reforms which would explicitly prohibit some of the very same behaviors that Ald. Ed Burke (14th) is accused of engaging in," reports NBC Chicago, which has its own ethics problems. (#callback #subtweet)

Meanwhile, aldermen introduced new ethics reforms banning the use of wires in council chambers or councilmembers' offices. At least they wanted to.

*

"Emanuel introduced the ethics package, his fifth since 2011, at Wednesday's city council meeting."

Which of the five has been your favorite so far? I thought No. 3 was pretty amusing.

*

"We've done a number of things over [my] tenure to change the culture and the operating rules of the city council," Emanuel said. "And our work is not done."

Also, our work has not worked. Or has it, given that it wasn't meant to?

*

"Emanuel's proposed changes would require committee chairmen with more than three conflict of interest disclosures per year to terminate the relationship that caused the conflict. If they don't comply, they will either have to resign or be subject to fines of $500-$2,000 for each offense."

I think they'll just take the fines!

Better idea: No outside jobs, no conflicts of interest

"The mayor dismissed the idea of an outright ban on outside employment for aldermen, saying that it is valuable to have input from aldermen who own small businesses."

Oh.

*

We all know that's a bullshit answer from Rahm, but to play along for a second, does Burke's law firm qualify as a "small business?" Asking for a small business friend.

*

"Emanuel said he wants to pass an additional 'comprehensive' ethics reform package before leaving office."

So, ethics package No. 6.

*

"Emanuel also said when it comes to aldermanic privilege, the power given to aldermen to unilaterally override city council actions in their own wards, he would rather 'mend it, not end it.'

"While he admitted to sometimes being frustrated by aldermen exercising their aldermanic privilege, he said it doesn't mean he believes aldermen should be 'neutered' by fully revoking that power."

So, not comprehensive ethics reform.

*

Inbox, from Ald. Michele "Don't Take Sides Against The Family" Smith:

Today, I along with 15 other Aldermen, introduced a series of ethics reforms to cement the work of those who have steadfastly chipped away at "business as usual" in City Council.

Some of the measures, such as the ordinance giving the Inspector General full City Council committee oversight, was one I originally introduced in 2015. They are being pulled out of limbo and revived after years of stonewalling by an entrenched leadership. This is the moment to restore faith in City Council and I call upon my colleagues to support and enact these basic, common sense ordinances to ensure integrity, transparency and accountability in how we conduct the people's business.

These measures include:

• providing the Inspector General with complete oversight of all City Council Committees and giving it the tools to issue and enforce subpoenas and conduct audits

• guaranteeing that Committee staff are not repurposed for non-Committee functions

• enforcing City Council oversight by electing, instead of appointing Committee Chairs

• posting schedules of regular meetings and making available recordings of the proceedings

• requiring Council members to announce potential conflicts at the moment legislation is introduced, and prohibiting their participation in any aspect of the legislative process on that ordinance

• strengthening the Council Office of Financial Analysis (COFA), created in 2013, to become independent of all Committees, allowing Council to access unbiased information about City Finances.

Also, stop bribing people.

*

Now, back to that Spielman analysis as we shift ever so briefly into the impact of The Wires on the mayor's race:

"[Susana] Mendoza's ties to the Solis family run deep. Danny Solis was one of the biggest donors to her first race for the Illinois House and his 25th Ward Regular Democratic Organization contributed $55,400 to her 2018 campaign for state comptroller.

"This is the second one of Susana Mendoza's friends and allies to be caught up in this FBI scandal. Neither of these people are allies of mine," Preckwinkle said Wednesday at an unrelated City Hall news conference.

"[Mendoza is] close to Burke and considers him a political mentor. She would not have been elected as a state representative without his help. She was married at the alderman's home and sworn in repeatedly - until this month - by the alderman's wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke." (Link mine.)

*

Please also note: Toni Preckwinkle has stated that Ed Burke is Gery Chico's best friend. I asked Chico's campaign chair last week if that is true, and I still haven't received an answer. I'll take that as a Yes, as I've not seen a denial elsewhere either.

*

Does this mean Bill Daley - of all people, in this, the most ironic city ever - could shoot the gap and ascend to the Fifth Floor on the back of Ed Burke?

I still wouldn't count out Preckwinkle, but . . .

"Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday that she spoke with longtime Ald. Edward Burke about a job for his son before her administration hired him to a nearly $100,000 per year job," the Tribune reports.

"At the time Preckwinkle's administration hired him, Edward Burke Jr. was under investigation for misconduct by the Cook County Sheriff's Office where he worked for allegedly making inappropriate sexual comments to coworkers. Preckwinkle, who for weeks has avoided questions about hiring Burke Jr., made the statement at an afternoon press conference where her mayoral campaign unveiled a plan to expand Chicago programs that help small businesses in minority communities.

"I had a meeting with Ed Burke," Preckwinkle said. "He shared with me that his son was looking for a new opportunity."

Toni, Toni, Toni.

That. Is. Not. Good.

*

"Preckwinkle did not explain what the meeting was about but said she gave Burke Jr.'s resume to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, which vetted and hired him. It was unclear what the vetting process entailed and her representatives declined to elaborate."

1. It must be nice to have the county board president pass along your resume.

2. Declining to elaborate is only drawing out the questions surrounding this episode, which unfortunately is a habit of Preckwinkle's. She's not exactly from the school of strategically putting everything out there right away to get past a story as quickly as possible.

To wit:

"At Wednesday's press conference, Preckwinkle did not answer directly when asked why she hadn't previously acknowledged talking with Burke about his son's employment."

Toni, Toni, Toni.

"I had one or two meetings a year with Ald. Burke out of a thousand meetings," Preckwinkle said.

That. Is. Not. An. Answer.

"Earlier this month, the Tribune first reported that Preckwinkle hired Burke Jr. as training and exercise manager for the county's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department in December 2014, raising new questions about her relationship with the embattled alderman.

"Then, on Wednesday, the Tribune reported that Burke Jr. was under internal investigation for allegedly making inappropriate sexual comments and lying about a supervisor at the sheriff's office when Preckwinkle's administration hired him.

For weeks, Preckwinkle's administration has declined to address written questions asking whether Preckwinkle spoke with Ald. Burke about the hire and she walked away at an unrelated press conference while being asked about it.

I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for yet, and I think some of the coverage of Preckwinkle's intersection with Burke has been unfair, probably the result of attacks on her because she's the frontrunner, but I just moved Preckwinkle into the No category - unless, I suppose, I need to help stop Bill Daley.

Can Lori Lightfoot and Paul Vallas co-mayor?

*

The pattern:

"In addition to the Burke charge, Preckwinkle has faced other high-profile problems since she announced her run for mayor months ago.

"Preckwinkle, who is the Cook County Democratic Party chairwoman, fired her security chief in November amid the fallout of a county watchdog report that found a government SUV assigned to her security detail had been illegally used to transport campaign materials supporting her. The former security chief told the Tribune he had no idea who put the political materials inside the vehicle, but thought Preckwinkle unfairly ousted him to protect her political ambitions."

I have no idea what to think about that affair. Just amazingly weird. But she has been amazingly slow to respond and weird in that response. And then this:

When she announced her candidacy for mayor, Preckwinkle also misled the public about when she knew of sexual misconduct allegations against her former chief of staff who she fired the day before. On the day she announced her run, Preckwinkle said she did not know about sexual harassment allegations against her top staffer before mid-September. The Tribune, however, later reported Preckwinkle knew of the concerns six months before she took action.

No wonder the most recent Beachwood Poll shows all candidates now at 0 percent.

*

Burke appeared at an aldermanic forum Wednesday night. Highlights:

*

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Finally:

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Shamrock shakedown.



Permalink

Posted on January 24, 2019


MUSIC - Chicago Harmonica Meetup.
TV - BLKNWS.
POLITICS - Terms Of Service Gone Awry.
SPORTS - Chicago's Best 8-Ball Player?

BOOKS - From Modern Chicago To Ancient Egypt.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Born Free Chicago.


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