Last week was a bad one for the ward bosses.
Cook County commissioner Mike Quigley, who comes as close as we get to a reformer, won the Democratic primary in the Fifth Congressional District special election. Thirty-second Ward committeeman John Fritchey, who was running too, didn't win in his own ward. Alderman Eugene Schulter couldn't deliver his 47th Ward for Fritchey (Quigley won it). Powerhouse aldermen William Banks, Patrick Levar, and Richard Mell couldn't deliver a majority for Fritchey in their wards. And Alderman Patrick O'Connor won a majority of votes in his home ward but got swamped elsewhere.
Maybe there's a chance for an independent movement in this town after all. Then again . . .
On Sunday I gave a talk at the University of Illinois at Chicago to a wonderful group of free thinkers. The subject was the unwillingness of voters to rebel against the waste and stupidity of our local government. Near the end of the session, an older gentleman went on an impressive riff, predicting the horrors that would befall our city if anyone other than Richard M. Daley were mayor.
As he saw it, without Daley Chicago would be overwhelmed by its poor black residents. He didn't compare Chicago to Detroit or Gary -- which is where this worldview generally leads -- but it's probably only because he didn't think of of it.
"God bless Mayor Daley!" he exclaimed.
After the talk I spoke to some audience members who said that quite a few of their neighbors had similar opinions.
Maybe last week's vote was an aberration.