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Sandi Jackson’s former City Hall colleagues not in sympathetic mood

37th Ward Alderman EmmM. Mitts Chicago City Council meeting Wednesday April 13 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times

37th Ward Alderman Emma M. Mitts at Chicago City Council meeting, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 14, 2013 8:56PM

Last fall, the sorority of female Chicago aldermen closed ranks behind then-Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) amid word that her philandering husband may have used campaign funds to buy lavish gifts for a female friend.

But that was before they knew Sandi Jackson was in the thick of the lavish and illegal campaign spending that resulted in the power-couple’s stunning downfall.

After Sandi Jackson was sentenced Wednesday to one year in prison for failing to report $600,000 in family income over a six-year period, her aldermanic colleagues were a lot less forgiving.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said she found it galling that Sandi Jackson lived in Washington, D.C., sent her kids to school there while serving one of Chicago’s most impoverished and crime-ridden wards and often arrived at City Hall rolling a suitcase behind her.

“She was in Washington probably more than she was in the city. People deserve better than that,” Mitts said.

“Our job is to serve our community 24/7. You can’t do that when you’re in Washington. It didn’t make sense to me. I once asked another elected official about that. I was told my name wasn’t Jackson. I wasn’t as popular as they were. And I should mind my own business — that they can do it and get away with it. But that’s not true. Everything that happens in the dark comes into the light.”

Although Jackson was hoping for probation and community service that would have allowed her to raise her kids while working at a Washington women’s shelter, Mitts said the former alderman should be grateful for what she got.

“It could have turned out worse for her,” Mitts said, adding, “Sandi is an attorney. I would think she would have known the law.”

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer, has known Sandi and Jesse Jr. for more than 20 years. Sawyer worked as an attorney on Jesse Jr.’s first congressional campaign.

On Wednesday, Sawyer’s thoughts were with the Jackson children, ages 13 and 9.

“They’re gonna be spending time without their parents. Any time that happens, it’s devastating. I hope they can get through this,” said Sawyer, who sat next to Sandi Jackson in the City Council.

“I’m not trying to defend bad or illegal behaviors. But they’ve been people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a long time and, if they reach out to me, I will reach back. That’s the act of a friend.”

Despite bad blood between the Beavers and Jackson families, convicted former County Commissioner Bill Beavers wasn’t gloating Wednesday after learning that both Jesse and Sandi Jackson were going to prison.

Beavers is headed there himself. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 25.

“I don’t feel sorry for nobody,” Beavers said Wednesday.

Beavers’ daughter, Darcel, was appointed to succeed her father in the City Council and was defeated by Sandi Jackson in 2007 and again in 2011.

On Jan. 11, the day Sandi Jackson resigned, Beavers called her a “ghost alderman” who was “never here” and predicted that she would someday pay the price for having benefited from and participated in her husband’s financial chicanery.


Twitter: @fspielman

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