This moment in politics: aldermanic prerogative, patronage and Trump

This moment in politics:  aldermanic prerogative, patronage and Trump
photo/Chicago Tribune

These three subjects--aldermanic prerogative and patronage (subconscious churning of thoughts brought on by a mayoral race) and Trump's vindication have been mixing it up inside me lately.

Albeit pushed aside briefly on Tuesday while I digested the Jussie Smollett Charges-Dropped head spinner, which left two huge jaw-droppers behind: Rahm, for the first time in eight years, being not only mayoral, but emotionally involved and totally genuine; and how come if Jussie is innocent he let go of $10,000 and gave up two days of his life stuffing envelopes for Rainbow Push?  I wouldn't, would you?  If I was innocent? I'd fight to keep my money and my dignity.

So let's begin with aldermanic perogative--two dirty words that have become so dirty in Chi-town simply because aldermen get to yea or nay what goes on in their ward.  It's on the hot seat and possibly on the chopping block.  But is aldermanic prerogative such a terrible thing?  Isn't it the great nexus of accountability--the ward's residents want something or don't want something in their ward for various reasons and the alderman responds one way or the other?  What am I missing?

Isn't that the basis of democracy and electoral politics?

For all the crybabies around the country who complain about Mitch McConnell, for example, someone only a small portion of Kentucky has any say over by either voting him out of office or voting him in every six years, how about tending to your own backyards?  Nothing anyone can do about him except the aforesaid small portion of Kentucky.

What about Aldermanic prerogative, the here and the now?  It's ours for the asking.  It should make us voters in Chicago happy to have the ability to push and pull our aldermen one way or the other with the threat of getting or losing our votes based on what they do.  But no, that's not good enough for the elites of Chicago.  They want to bellyache about Mr. Turtle-face.

We just had a skirmish in my ward.  In a nutshell, the CTA and some politically connected TIF-ers wanted to ruin a beautiful and much-used neighborhood park in favor of a new Red Line station.  After much bloviating and much chagrin and much pushing and pulling of our alderman, the plan was nixed by her and moved across the street into the adjoining ward, where the outgoing alderman (who was wearing a wire on unrelated matters) said "Sure."

Aldermanic prerogative makes the aldermen of our City responsive to their constituents.  Or at least it should.  That's what it's geared for.

But in our great civic stupidity, there's been a big push during this year's race for mayor to take that buttress of citizen/aldermen relationships and throw it in the trash--letting the decision of what goes in a ward, how and where, left to who?  The mayor?  Aldermen in other wards?  Or Mitch McConnell?

Which brings me to patronage.  I've always maintained that patronage (like aldermanic prerogative) is the greatest basis for political accountability in the world.  Or at least it should be--and that's how it started.  A politician who gives a guy a job, along with the guy's wife, kids, mother, father, sisters, brothers, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles and neighbors has him, shall we say, by the balls.

He better do a good job at work to please his fellow citizens, first off as a city worker:  whether it's garbage removal, park maintenance, light bulb freshening, paper-pushing for permits or anything else.  Cause the boss wants to get re-elected.

And he better do a good job for his neighbors, too, via his second job as precinct captain.  Just as Daley the First always told his patronage workers, "Give them all the garbage cans they want, and in your free time, babysit their kids, walk their dogs, go to their family funerals (and send flowers), show them you care under any and all circumstances about their life on the block.  And youse guys will keep your jobs."

And then he added, "But ignore them, blow them off or otherwise displease them, and youse guys will lose your jobs."

I'll be the first to admit, though, that both of these sensible plans--aldermanic prerogative and patronage--have come under intense scrutiny because they were ultimately being run by amateurs with no real political seasoning.

The aldermen have benefited by great voter apathy and voter transiency and have only a few to please now--their money-showerers--and have been making their people-pleasing deals with those outside the ward, the city and even the country!

And patronage hiring has become outlawed due to abuse:  namely, giving people jobs where the basic requirement was not showing up while being politically connected.

Which brings me to Trump's great hallelujah chorus of late:  "NO COLLUSION.  I TOLD YOU SO!"  Which I could have told  you when this whole game of prosecutors galore, subpoenas, FBI agents, interviews, indictments and lotsa taxpayer money started.

What looked like collusion between Trump's band of minor oligarchs was simply The Russians acting alone and trying their damnedest to keep Hillary Clinton out of office because they couldn't stand her like most voters couldn't stand her.  The voters having the following dilemma:  deciding which guy they wanted to keep out of the White House more.  Hmmmm. The newbie pussy-grabbing lout or the returning rapist oval office intern-molester?

Very hard decision  for most voters--especially in the swing states.

All we know is NO COLLUSION.

So let's bring all this home by connecting some dots.

1) It's over, Washington.  He didn't collude.  And he didn't obstruct justice. At least in the legal sense.  And it's time to get to WORK.  For us!  We pay you and we expect you to legislate.  Because we do have one thing hanging over your heads:  votes.

2) Let the oversight committee oversee the Trumpster if he steps out of line. But if you want to beat him for real, you better start serving us, your constituents.  Debate the New Green Deal, debate Medicare for all, debate campaign finance reform, debate the merits of free--or at least affordable--college, debate the state of our infrastructure and do something about it before we all get killed by falling bridges and highway potholes that have become sinkholes.

And don't forget to fix our immigration system while you're at it.  Make it a sensible and non-hurtful system for everyone.  And if you simply can't, give him the money for the damn wall.  And call it a day.

There's plenty for you to do--unless all you want to do is think about collusion and obstruction.  My advice is:  don't.

3) This is what we expect from you now:  true blue work.  For your salaries. Bring Trump along with you, or else let him be, on your way to helping fix what needs fixing.  And don't hurt our economy in the process to make political points.

4) And all the while think back to Chicago, where we still have the aldermanic prerogative and had patronage but blew it because our guys were thinking only of themselves, and not the people who they represented. The ones who really should be running the show.

5) Which reminds me of  a guy who pays for, and stages an attack on himself to get publicity and a better contract at work.

And lies and lies and lies about it, but gets exactly what he wants for ten-grand and two days with Jesse Jackson, the father.

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