Edward M. Burke and His Bodyguards: Is It Ego Or Is He Really The Mayor?

Edward M. Burke and His Bodyguards: Is It Ego Or Is He Really The Mayor?

What could possibly drive a man like Edward M. Burke to behave as if he is was somehow as powerful as the Mayor of Chicago. Is it simply the story of a delusional old man with a bad case of Big Ego? Then again maybe it is something more given the fact that he appears here, there and everywhere with a full compliment of bodyguards. The sight of him appearing and departing  must have city residents believing that maybe Edward M. Burke really is the Mayor of Chicago and those who have been elected to the post are really imposters. Personally? I just think Burke is the imposter and he is giving the taxpayers one hell of a stroking for his personal livery service on their dime. But hey, could it possibly be that Edward M. Burke is more powerful than Rahm Emanuel?

I know one thing for sure, any other big city boss would have clipped Burke's wings by now and tossed his collection of ridiculous looking hats into the first dumpster he saw to boot. But Rahm Emanuel does not seem to have the stomach for it, in spite of his reputation. Whatever the reason, it is pretty odd indeed. I guess the next logical question, though, is what exactly could Ed Burke have on the new mayor? Hell, for that matter, I wonder what he had on King Richie II for him to act like the top dog for so long. It must be something pretty juicy though because this just isn't the way it works if you know what I mean. Whatever it is, it sure has allowed Edward Burke to live his life of illusion with impunity.

However, don't you think $600,000 a year seems a tad much for taxpayers to have to front for such a man of means? And let's not forget that Eddie's wife takes in a pretty shiny penny or two being a Supreme Court Justice too. Surely between the two of them I would think they could afford a nice car and the personal driver to go along with it. Don't you? But no, the Burke's have decided that is best to just thumb their noses at the everyday people who have payed them handsomely and then still remind taxpayers that they are above them. Way above them!

Let's face it folks, any argument and/or justification for Edward M. Burke to have around the clock police protection is definitely 30 years too late. The death threats coming from the Council Wars he helped initiate are but a distant memory. We must all ask this parasite what in the hell does he even need one bodyguard for, let alone 5 or 6! This is just absolutely ridiculous and the Burke's know it too.

Yet Chicagoans have allowed this farce to persist instead of flooding City Hall with a very loud demand to end this waste of public funds. I don't know what it is but Chicagoans sure are a strange lot. They bitch, moan and groan whenever a TV News camera is near them but getting them to actually pick up a phone, write a letter or send an email to get this parasite off their backs is too great a task.

Then again maybe they really do believe that Burke is the Mayor.

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  • He isn't the Mayor, but that gets to the often debated question of who has how much power.

    It was said, and clearly true with regard to the two Daleys, that the Mayor was definitely more powerful that the Gov. and there was some reason why neither wanted to be President.

    However, folks like Burke have their own sources of power, which really haven't been exposed. The same for Madigan and Mell. As you note, there is Judge Burke, plus daughter got a job. There were all the stories about how Burke got the city to pay for iron fences to shield his house from the ruffians leaving the nearby CTA station and that. And he hasn't had any opponent in recent memory. Don't know if it is the tax lawyer business, but whatever. Maybe Andy Shaw can look into that more difficult question.

    Also, note that the reports were that repeated FOI requests were made for the data, but only now (maybe because of more teeth in the FOI law), only the latest request was honored.*

    So, unlike Bernie Stone, it isn't senility if you have been working the system for at least 28 years (must have been more, since he was already in his position of power in the City Council by the time Washington entered the scene). You can note that from his "court order" stance. The city could have gone before the judge and have the court order modified for changed conditions.

    This and your prior post about the fire inspectors indicates that Rahm may have just enough balls to father three children and deal partially with these problems (i.e. $160,000 isn't as bad as $600,000) but not root out the causes. Rahm must know that Burke has something to use against him, even if the Halpin gambit didn't work (and his wife didn't go along with it).

    *From the Fox/BGA story on Fox; the ST article to which you linked had far less detail. Placko said that the total was something like $11 million, discounting by an inflation factor of 3% per year and going back 28.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well said and correctly reasoned, especially the gambit. Have a wonderful weekend.

  • Today's Mr. Boffo may be relevant to the 30 year cost point.

    Dilbert, though, has been usable for transit ones.

    I guess I should read the comics before the blogs.

  • In reply to jack:

    Sorry for the late reply - long day (Doctor Appointment in the old neighborhood) That Comic was absolutely superb! Thanks for sharing.

  • Burke's power comes from his years in politics. The ward organization, the precinct workers, fundraising, etc. Much of it also comes from his active policy role (when the Council rarely considers citywide policy).

    In other words, he built up supporters through all his years in politics, and as he became a major policy force on the council, donors sought to flood him with money. Back and forth, back and forth, and then we end up here today.

    Since Burke's been in the council so long, around new members he has a mythology surrounding him. If the other spines (or is it spineless?) in the council would stand up to him, they would break him in an instant. He's an ancient monolith that if pushed, would break apart to dust. He might become a slight, sneezing annoyance, but his power would be effectively over.

  • In reply to thelowedown:

    Ancient monolith is an apropos description my friend. And I believe you hit it on the head about the spineless being afraid to stand up to the myth. Unfortunately it also happens to be the mindset of those council members who are still trying to make their bones and craft a myth of their own. I suppose what needs to be asked is "Will the circle ever be broken?"

    With a city like Chicago and its engrained machine culture (as well as other places like Detroit, Boston, etc.) it is a virtual lock for these scumbags since there is no opposition to speak of. And if there is opposition, well they quickly fall in line and go along with the status quo. If my memory serves me right, the last Republican on the Council was Doherty in the 41st and he was about as sure a vote for Daley as his other loyalists.

    Speaking of other ancient monoliths, and one who was finally challenged was Bernie Stone. I guess the only good thing about him was that he wasn't a sure vote unless it filled his own war chest.

    Great comment Aaron. Thanks.

  • In reply to thelowedown:

    I still think that there is more to it than that. The organization here has to be strong enough not only to get elected, but scare everybody off even though he is certainly not representative of his ward, and even taking into account my surmise that most of the population in his ward isn't legally entitled to vote.

    The property tax appeals lawyer angle may be closer to the truth.

    Another analogy: While the mobs during Prohibition enforced order with the machine gun, the source of their power was money from booze and prostitution. Similarly, the power of street gangs is not that they shoot people on the street (most of those shooters are just thugs) but they sell dope.

    Of course, some things are entrenched. The 10 or so aldercreatures elected in 2008 with SEIU backing were supposed to be independent, but that lasted about 10 minutes, except maybe for Waugespack. They even came around on Walmart. No word about anyone in the class of 2010 bucking Burke or Emanuel.

    You sure don't see Moses Depres* on the council floor today, like you had Carothers Sr. and Jr. And we know how the latter made his money.

    *Reference to former 5th Ward Alderman Leon Depres, but that ethnic group does not name children after themselves.

  • In reply to jack:

    The property tax appeals appears to be the juice that drives these politicians - it is at least the major contributor to their money-go-round. But there must something else as well. As for your reference to Depres and Carothers - I am sure there is such a person in waiting. However, since since we don't know what deals were struck between Rahm and his coalition - I think it is too early in the "honeymoon period" but that too will end if he reneges down the line. There is always a renegade ready to make a name for themselves - so we need to just wait and see how it plays out.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Not sure what you mean by person in waiting. Might be an Ike III, but no indication that anyone is pushing out Hairston.

  • In reply to jack:

    Kind of tongue in cheek Jack. There is always someone angling to rise up and challenge the old guard, that's all.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    I previously mentioned that Silverstein was the new machine muscling out Stone's old machine.

    However, in other entrenched areas, especially Burke's and Mell's, there hasn't been any evidence of that.

    My reference to Depres was that there is certainly nobody willing to stand up to da Mare like Leon did (and Oberman and Singer purported to).

  • In reply to jack:

    It'll be interesting to see if Silverstein will last given she has promised everything to everyone - not a good recipe for success. We'll see but I suspect there will be opposition as soon as the people realize she is no Bernie. I understand what you meant about Depres, I just think it is way too early into the honeymoon with Rahm. Right now it looks as if he has the ducks in a row, but as alderman are threatened with reductions in their slush funds and expense accounts - we will just have to wait and see. I do not believe that everything Rahmbo wants will be embraced. Hey, it could come from out of nowhere, maybe a guy like Haupeseck since he has an Independent streak. There will be someone - just a matter of time as the give mes are tampered with.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Except. as Burke's case indicates, Rahm may not have the balls to cut off the "give mes," just trim them a bit.

  • In reply to jack:

    Very True.

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