Updated: August 8, 2013 6:53AM
Honest to God, politicians think we’re stupid, don’t they?
Here comes Ald. Dick Mell, the warhorse boss of the 33rd Ward, who at 75 has confessed — midterm — to a sudden yearning to play with the grandkids. And needs to retire right away. Leaving a vacancy on the City Council two years before the next election.
People, haven’t we seen this movie?
His buddy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, gets to appoint Mell’s successor who, despite the pretense of a blue-ribbon commission to search for said successor, knows full well that the leading contender is Mell’s daughter, state Rep. Deb Mell. Is she qualified? Sure. Is she entitled to walk into yet another legacy-seat under the Daley-Madigan-Lipinski-Stroger-Burke-Berrios-friends-and-family plan of Illinois politics?
Speaking of blue-ribbon commissions, Rahm the Reformer is appointing another search committee to find the BEST candidate for city inspector general. Even though the current IG, Joseph Ferguson, happens to be the best candidate. Ferguson, despite Emanuel’s relentless obstructionism, has actually tried to pry critical information out of an administration that prides itself on transparency but isn’t transparent at all on many things that matter to the pocketbooks of taxpayers.
Does anyone see a pattern here?
An arrogance-of-power attitude that pats us citizens on our dopey little heads and says, patronizingly, we’ll let you know what we decide.
Let’s begin with Rahm’s battle with the IG because, honestly, it’s way more important than whoever becomes the next alderman to sit in — with a few exceptions — a lapdog City Council.
Check out the editorial cartoon next to this column. Because our own Pulitzer Prize-winning Jack Higgins sums up this story better than I could ever write it.
Rahm wants to get rid of Ferguson. Either by forcing him to quit. Or telling him to beg to be re-appointed to a job at which he has clearly excelled. This, despite the mayor’s cynically broken promise to expand the IG’s reach into the clout-heavy, contract-rich recesses of the Park District and the Public Building Commission.
Even David Hoffman, Ferguson’s highly regarded predecessor whom Emanuel shamelessly used as a pre-election prop, admits to being deeply disappointed.
“I don’t think it’s fair to Joe. He’s done a real good job. Been independent in the way you want and need an IG to be independent,” said Hoffman by phone Thursday.
Independent because Ferguson has insisted on having subpoena power to back up his investigations. Something the Daley and Emanuel administrations have fought like tigers. And because he has insisted on auditing budgets, contracts and the function of city departments, including how the police did or did not pursue a 2004 homicide case in which the nephew of then Mayor Daley threw a fatal punch.
Oh, and Ferguson has repeatedly sought the ability to investigate aldermen.
Wanna guess how retiring Ald. Dick Mell and his colleagues responded to that one?
So the mayor has two important jobs to fill.
And voters have no voice.