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Dismantling Chicago's "Duocracy"

  For over two decades, two guys ran the show at Chicago City Hall:

  A Mayor and a Chairman.

  A Boss and a slightly-less-powerful Underboss.

  The long-rumored power sharing agreement between Richard M.Daley and Edward Burke has been all but laid bare by developments during the early weeks of Rahm Emanuel's term as Daley's successor.

  While "Boss" Daley decided not to run for a seventh term, "Underboss" Burke-- the City Council Finance Committee Chairman and Chicago's longest-serving Alderman--is in a white-knuckle struggle to hang on to control of the city's legislative branch as well as the perks that have come with it.

  Court documents revealed that Daley always had the authority to remove Burke's police bodyguard detail, something the former mayor did not do for all of his 22 years in office. (The 4-6 bodyguards--initially assigned to protect Burke 24-7 during the 1980's "Council Wars"--have since cost Chicago taxpayers untold millions of dollars)

  But the most outrageous evidence of a Daley/Burke deal was uncovered last week with revelations that Alderman Burke's daughter has worked "under the radar" in the City Law Department for the past five years.

  We learned that 41 year old Jennifer Burke is a $99,948 supervisor in the Law Department only after she was nominated by Governor Pat Quinn for a $117,000 a year membership on the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

  Quinn, who was loaned $200,000 by Burke's campaign fund and accepted a $50,000 donation from the Alderman, insists the money had nothing to do with the appointment.

  Aldermen I interviewed, including chairmen of major council committees, were unwaware that the Finance Chairman's daughter worked in the Law Department. There, presumably, her computer password gave her access to the most sensitive information about city-related lawsuits, personnel matters, contracts, police internal affairs, etc. etc.

  Ever heard the saying "information is power"?

  Ms. Burke was hired in 2006 by Daley's ever-loyal Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and surely the Mayor was aware of Ms. Burke's familial connections.

  Inside job?

  I wonder what Mayor Emanuel's newly-appointed Corporation Counsel Steve Patton thought when he found out that Jennifer Burke's daddy had a big office downstairs...and that pops is the same Ed Burke who supported Gery Chico's campaign against Rahm Emanuel in the mayoral election.

  For the new administration, having Jennifer Burke leave the Law Department is a proverbial "no brainer".

  But as Rahm surveys City Hall he has to be thinking...where are the rest of Burke's people holed up?




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It certainly disturbing that Chicago business and politics is one big fraternal order. I scratch your back, you scratch mine or I look out for you, you look out for me. But it has always been this way. It shouldn't be no surprise. The people in Chicago hold positions of power because they knew someone, not because they were the most qualified, simply because of comradeship. Chicago has always been known as the place where there were exclusive tight circles. And everyone is not welcomed.


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