Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clout City: Shiller Shout-Out

Ben Joravsky's "Clout City" discussed the passing of legendary Alderman Leon Despres and mentions our beloved Alderman:

"It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the Daleys, and political courage is always in short supply around here. In fact, it's kind of futile to expect any alderman to be as courageous as Despres. It's a little like expecting every Bull to be as driven as Jordan or every local journalist to be as funny and insightful as Royko. In some ways, we're lucky to have had one Leon Despres. But hey Ric Munoz, Toni Preckwinkle, Joe Moore, Leslie Hairston, Scott Waguespack,
and even you, Helen Shiller: at least you can try."

UU Note: Funniest thing we've read in a long time. Ben overlooks the fact that Shiller gave up on independence the minute Daley dangled unfettered access to the Wilson Yard TIF in her face.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Ben has a good point with "It's a little like expecting every Bull to be as driven as Jordan...In some ways, we're lucky to have had one Leon Despres."

    In my opinion, though, Helen owes her seat on the Council to his (and others') fight for women's rights here in Chicago. I'd say it is payback time! WWLD (What Would Leon Do?)

    With Studs passing too, it feels like an end of an era. I wonder what Studs, Leon and old Man Daley are up to right now??!!! There have been a few thunderstorms...

    Well, rather than ponder the mysteries of the universe here are some good passages from a 2005 NYT article about his memoir (in which he called the Chicago Machine a parasite that doesn't love Chicago but merely feeds on it!)

    "Mr. Despres lamented what he portrayed as the corruptive influence of the contractors who fill [Richard M. Daley's] campaign coffers and Chicago's increasingly one-sided civic debate. Even as the mayor vowed last week to curtail patronage in city hiring, Mr. Despres pointed out other ways that Richard the younger had consolidated power in what he called a "supine City Council." Vacancies are filled no longer by special election but by appointment. Mr. Daley has seated 28 aldermen since 1989, including 17 of the current 50, and the mayor gives members $1.5 million each from a municipal fund to spend on projects in their wards.

    ...One of the most profound differences between the two Daleys is that the son lacks a Leon Despres: a leader of the opposition, a maverick standing up and speaking out regardless of political price as did Mr. Despres, who frequently held up the short end of 49-to-1 votes."

    Mike Royko said "Throughout his career, he has been in the forefront of just about every decent, worthwhile effort made to improve life in this city. Being in the forefront, he is usually the first to be hit on the head with the mayor's gavel."

    G-d bless, Leon.