Indicted Chicago Alderman Ed Burke resigned his position as chairman of the Chicago City Council’s powerful Finance Committee. Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly appointed his own floor leader, Ald. Patrick O’Connor, as replacement.

For some background on O’Connor, start with John Kass’ great piece in the Tribune yesterday. He references a 2008 Tribune article, part of a series, describing the relationship between O’Connor’s role in zoning changes and his wife’s real estate business.

“He zones. She sells. And it’s legal” — that’s how the headline summarizes it. “She had sold millions of dollars’ worth of houses and condos after the projects were approved by her husband. He makes developers happy, they make him happy, his wife is happy, everyone’s happy,” as Kass puts it.

And, good grief, look at the rest of O’Connor’s bio in Wikipedia (which is not always a reliable source, but the information on O’Connor seems properly documented with footnotes to credible sources). It reads like a parody of Chicago politics for the 35 years O’Connor has been an alderman:

In his first term a federal grand jury investigated O’Connor for providing, in late 1983 and again in late 1984, year-end jobs on the Education Committee staff for fifteen persons, including his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, his sister-in-law, wives of two former members of his law firm, and the wife of a former staff aide. Some of those hired admitted they did not realize they were on the City payroll. “All in the Family” was a popular name for O’Connor’s hiring practices, and O’Connor became known as the “City Hall Santa.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor

O’Connor defended himself by defending nepotism, it says: “Absolutely. I think nepotism is a system that has been around a long time. It has worked very well in England. I don’t think it’s been much more of a problem here.”

Also according to that entry, “O’Connor and the ward organization he chairs, the 40th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, were cited in a complaint filed on August 31, 2005 with the Illinois State Board of Elections by the Cook County Republican Party.”

Finally, it says “In 2008 O’Connor was found to be one of seven Chicago aldermen who between them got ten of their children good-paying summer jobs with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.”

Yes, he’s the breath of fresh air selected to replace the disgraced one. It’s “just arrogant politics in Chicago, with the ruling political class continuing to show its absolute contempt for the people they govern,” as Kass put it today. “They’re not even the slightest bit shamed. Emanuel can spout such nonsense installing O’Connor, talk about Burke and morality, and never blush, because either his skin is made of wood or perhaps he just thinks the people of Chicago are stupid fools.”

“Perhaps” Rahm thinks Chicagoans are fools? No, he’s certain.

Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.



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Herb Caplan
2 years ago

More evidence of the proposition: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. Fool me all of the time sounds like Emanuel’s and O’Connors’s practice of local government. Will one of the 21 candidates for Mayor have the integrity to finally decide that “Chicago is ready for reform” and in a new revolutionary spirit of 2019 lead the victimized residents of Chicago to a new world of freedom from corrupt politics? That’s the only issue of the coming election and another brief opportunity for the voters to distinguish the candidates between the good, the bad and… Read more »

2 years ago

Lived on the border of Ald O’Connors 40 ward in horrible family dynasty Ald Larino’s 39th ward for over 25 years. innumerable shenanigans between the two of those alderman over the years. But mostly, its degrading feeling you have no chance to change things in your ward. Ald Larino is retiring thank god, I believe she was a 100% rubber stamp for daley & emanuel over all those years. sure o’connor was the same. was reading in trib that the alderman were more of a rubber stamp under emanul than under daley- unbelievable!

2 years ago

1. You have no “clean” Chicago politicians.
2. Chicago voters have not seemed all that bothered by #1

So. You get what you ask for. At least NYC did vote for and get Guiliani. Bloomberg also wasn’t all that bad (nor Koch, so long ago)

But Chicago?

I’m somewhat surprised Burke got caught… but not that surprised nobody else (Preckwinkle… Madison… etc.) has been nabbed. Yet.

2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

What about Jeanie Ives?

2 years ago
Reply to  Sean

forgot we were talking only about chicago POS

2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Mark – Progressives hate the Machine crooks only because they haven’t asked them to join in any Machine games, or at least not on the scale that would appease them. But once they get a taste of power, they’re really not much different. Case in point: DSA and progressive heartthrob Alderman Carlos Rosa backed a $5 million tax break to Berman (fka Mid-City) Nissan just so they could move from one Chicago ward into his a few years ago. For those keeping score at home, Nissan is a foreign-owned manufacturer building cars in a right-to-work state. But Rosa is all… Read more »