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Chicagoans: Drain Our Swamp with Lori Lightfoot

Don Rose 16 January 2019 No Comment

Months ago, before Rahm Emanuel decided not to seek re-election, a dozen or so people lined up to challenge him–believing he was vulnerable because of the attempted cover-up of the police murder of Laquan McDonald. Among them was Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who served as head of the police board and became a powerful advocate for police reform.


     She struck me as the most competent and electable independent progressive of the group. I checked with many lawyers and police reformers, interviewed her and found her attuned to my views of education, housing and other reform issues.  So,  I signed on as an unpaid senior advisor to her campaign–a role also undertaken by my friend and longtime colleague, Dick Simpson, professor of political science at UIC and  former independent alderman.

   When Emanuel announced he would not run, a flock of well known public officials and political players jumped in–all either Emanuel supporters or moderate critics too timid to challenge him outright.

   Neither Simpson nor I saw any reason to switch candidates. We simply saw  members of the old political establishment–aka the Machine–split apart to grab more power. Lightfoot, however,  can benefit from the situation the way Harold Washington did in 1983 when the Machine was split between Jane Byrne and Rich Daley.

    Fortunately for Chicagoans, a very powerful but highly unethical member of the Machine, Alderman Edward Burke, was recently caught on tape allegedly extorting a businessman for his personal law business and directing a $10,000 bri…–excuse me–“campaign contribution” to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also head of the Cook County Democratic Party.

   Surprise!  Preckwinkle earlier hired Burke’s son Edward Jr. for a $100,000 per year county job despite his lack of qualifications. Burke also dealt politically or directed big money to candidates Susana Mendoza–the state comptroller and likely Emanuel choice–William Daley and Gery Chico, whom he endorsed.

   Those revelations give us a clear view into the way things work in the Chicago swamp, where even the fiscally honest befriend and enable the crooks.

     Burke, the wealthiest alderman, makes millions on the side by representing developers before the board of property tax appeals–somehow always winning, saving clients millions because of his connections. We can only speculate whether some of his business was extorted or how much dirty money was passed around to others. All know how Burke gets his money but may not know how dirty some is.

   Suddenly all Burke’s beneficiaries–whether from unethical earnings or outright dirty cash–have suddenly become reformers, opposing outside jobs for officials and proclaiming high ethical standards. But Lightfoot was there first with a powerful ethics paper issued last August–before got fashionable to have one.

    She also has issued the most comprehensive papers on public safety, housing, schools and the environment I have seen–and I speak as one who was a principal in drafting such for Washington and Chuy Garcia among others. Those and more are on her website: LightfootforChicago.com.

   Start draining the Chicago swamp February 26 by voting Lori Lightfoot.

Don Rose is a regular contributor to the Chicago Daily Observer


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