Watching Alderman Osterman | Letters | Chicago Reader

Watching Alderman Osterman 

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To the editors:

The Obejas piece on aldermanic gyrations [Our Town, December 11] gave us a snapshot of City Council craziness, but it was too short to cover all the inmates. My own alderman, Kathy Osterman, had an especially busy week.

When Jesse Jackson (prominent Chicagoan, but not an alderman) convened a caucus of the movement which had elected Washington to announce criteria for his successor, she denounced the "outside interference." When George Dunne (prominent Chicagoan, but . . . ) convened a caucus of the party committee to select a successor, she was too busy to denounce him. The party committee's last successful mayoral endorsement was Bilandic.

Scores of protesters marched in front of her office on Sunday to protest the deal making she hosted. She complained about that demonstration to a delegation in her office on Tuesday--acknowledging that they were some of the same people. Then she went on TV and dismissed the demonstrators as "city employees afraid of losing their jobs." None of the dozen people in her office, and few of those picketing, were city employees. (Picketing a meeting of aldermen is an unlikely way for a city employee to protect his job, but logic was never Kathy's long suit.)

At the Tuesday meeting--see above--she told her constituents, "Well, most of you weren't my supporters." Most of those present had opposed her in the primary, but campaigned for her in the runoff. No one had campaigned against her in the runoff. The 75 percent of the 48th Ward which voted for another candidate can expect a dry four years.

In a Greg Hinz interview, she said that Sawyer, unlike Evans, had got support from both black and white aldermen. More objective observers consider Bloom, Orr, and Shiller to be white. The redefinition of an individual's race to match political expediency recalls the South African practice (Japanese are white, not Asian, etc). Evans, of course, had support from most of the blacks, whites, and Latinos who supported Washington. He could not, however, crack the bloc of southwest-side machinesters who opposed Washington till they were irrelevant, but provided Osterman with vast campaign contributions.

A sign was put on her office: "Kathy Osterman we are watching you." She interpreted that as a physical threat. Her office was spray painted by a tagger. She announced--against the evidence--that it was the work of her political opponents.

One week, one ward. Delusions, disinformation, and denunciation abound; dignity is a forgotten hope; distinction was never expected. Chicago politics at its usual worst.

Frank Palmer

W. Argyle

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