Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading the results of the Second District election, aldermanically

Posted By on 03.01.13 at 12:35 PM

Alderman Anthony Beale
I hope Chicago aldermen were paying attention as the votes came in from Tuesday's special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. as congressman from the Second District.

In particular, I hope they were eyeballing Alderman Anthony Beale's tally.

To put it mildly, Alderman Beale got whopped, running a distant third in what was essentially a three-person race. Robin Kelly won with more than 50 percent of the vote. Alderman Beale got roughly 11 percent.

I know—there's a lot of suburban areas to the district, where a Chicago alderman might not fare so well.

But Beale also got crushed in the city portions of the district. He lost badly in his own Ninth Ward (Kelly got 50 percent of the vote; he got 34)—and even worse in the neighboring Seventh and Fifth wards.

I don't mean to be picking on Alderman Beale. OK, maybe a little. He's been a rubber-stamping alderman from the time he got elected in 1999.

He's voted for the parking meter deal and dozens of TIF deals and the 2011 budget, which jacked up water-sewer fees.

And what did he get for it? The aforementioned 11 percent of the vote.

It's hard enough to escape whatever stigmas pop into people's minds when they think of Chicago aldermen. It's even worse if the alderman in question dangles from the mayor's strings.

I can't think of one alderman of the rubber-stamping persuasion who's recently advanced to higher office.

Toni Preckwinkle moved on to become president of the Cook County Board. But she was a maverick who voted against Mayor Daley on several occasions, including, most memorably, the parking meter deal.

In fact, I was having a conversation on a related topic just the other day with a gentleman who professes to be a flag-waving supporter of Mayor Emanuel.

Yes, there's at least one left in Chicago.

Let's call him Eric.

I told Eric that the mayor's wigged-out policies of closing schools and outsourcing city jobs was not only bad for Chicago, but they weren't very good for the mayor's future political career, because they antagonize the left-of-center activists who form the core of the Democratic Party.

You know, should the mayor—like Alderman Beale—want to move up the political ladder.

To which Eric asked: What do you care about the mayor's political future?

Truthfully, not a whole helluva lot. But . . .

I believe that Mayor Emanuel's political ambitions drive his policies. In other words, he thinks closing schools and bashing the teachers' union—to pick one example—will advance his political career.

Since I know I can't get him to change his policies by pointing out that they're bad for Chicago, I was hoping to get him to change by explaining how they're also bad for him.

And that he might adopt some new policies, if only for his own political self-interest.

I believe we call that evolving—like President Obama did on gay marriage.

Well, the same is true for aldermen. Don't do the right thing 'cause it's the right thing. Do it to advance your political self-interest.

In other words, you may think that doing whatever the mayor tells you is good for your career. But it's not.

If you don't believe me, just check out Alderman Beale's results from Tuesday's congressional election.

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