Monday, October 16, 2006

The Tribune finally catches on, Part II

As a close observer of the municipal elections and a longtime public critic of the misuse of city resources for campaign purposes, I can say confidently that it is highly unlikely that Ray Frias, former 12th Ward alderman, could be "appalled and shocked" about the political use of city services. ("If a tree falls in the city, is it just election time?", Oct. 15, 2006).

After all, Frias once sent his own aide and precinct captain, Susana Mendoza, to coordinate nearly identical efforts for the Hispanic Democratic Organization in the previous election. This was when he himself was involved with HDO. For this, Mendoza was rewarded with a seat in the state legislature.

More likely, Frias was stunned that HDO leaders would turn on him in the way that they did, using taxpayer money to support a relative unknown against him. That left many of us a little confused.

The stakes for the mayor's perpetual control of the City Council are quite high. Our taxes have been held hostage in this way every four years, in contested turf throughout Chicago, so that the mayor may maintain that control. In 2000, I discovered nearly 1,000 completed city service requests in an abandoned campaign office, many personally marked by Susana Mendoza.

Among those papers, one particular order - written by a Department of Transportation superintendent - showed that trees were not the only things to be removed in anticipation of Election Day. In two of the five runoff wards in 1999 in which Daley's HDO had an interest, perfectly good sidewalks were scheduled for demolition, specifically in front of polling places, right on the eve of the election. This was quite probably to deter voters in those precincts. A close analysis showed that the work was probably ordered by Daley's own campaign staff.

Lest the point be lost on more gentle readers, it is your money, coming from your property taxes. There is plenty on hand to do what needs to be done. If you ever hear neighbors complain about things not getting done, it is because some alderman is sandbagging those funds - your funds - for political gain.

The people leading these activities have been Mayor Daley's closest political lieutenants. Any suggestions that he is not aware of it and condoning it are simply not credible.

Upscale wards don't witness this kind of activity, because their political systems have evolved from ones supported by patronage precinct structures to ones governed by community organizations. Else they might understand that things are not normal in Chicago. Yet they too should take note, because this activity is encouraged from the highest offices in the city. Elsewhere, they call it corruption.


Post a Comment

<< Home