Thursday, August 03, 2006

What's going on Russ Stewart???

I haven't used his column much in the past few months and the only reason I do so now is to talk about the county. More specifically what's going to happen to the Stroger's home 8th Ward on the south side of Chicago? And aslo why is Todd not going for both the commissioner's seat and the board presidency? Well Russ covers these topics in his column from last month.

First off what about the 8th Ward...
The 8th Ward (Avalon Park, Gately Park), just south of Hyde Park, runs roughly from 73rd Street to 103rd Street, between Cottage Grove Avenue and Yates Boulevard. Among the ward's 66,000 residents and 36,654 registered voters, at least 800 have county jobs, and another 400 have city jobs. On any given election day, the Democratic organization can field an army of 3,000 workers.

John Stroger, age 77, suffered a stroke prior to the March primary and has since been incapacitated. The extent of that incapacity is unknown. The elder Stroger has been a county commissioner since 1970, the board president since 1994 and the 8th Ward Democratic committeeman since 1968. The younger Stroger, age 38, has been the 8th Ward alderman since 2001, and he was the area's state representative from 1993 to 2001.
Todd Stroger is now the 8th Ward Democratic committeeman, and he will serve through 2008. But local knives are being sharpened.

If Stroger loses to Peraica, he will remain the ward's alderman, and he will be up for re-election in 2007. He certainly will face a Jackson-backed challenger, which likely will be businessman Odell Reed. State Representative Marlow Colvin (D-33), age 42, a longtime 8th Ward precinct captain who took Todd Stroger's legislative seat in 2001, also could make a move to oust Stroger as alderman.

If, however, Stroger is elected board president, expect Colvin to be the Stroger organization's 2007 aldermanic candidate.
The Stroger machine is capable of cranking out at least 9,000 votes in every primary, and that will continue as long as Todd Stroger is board president. But if he's not, and if Colvin runs and splits the organization, then an anti-Daley independent could win the aldermanic spot.
Well I really love the history of the last 30-40 years of politics in Chicago's 8th Ward which is lumped with Beaver's 7th Ward as being largely black and middle-class. Now why is Ald. Stroger taking his dad president's seat but not his commissioner's seat...
To the politically uninitiated, the Stroger-Beavers tag team is befuddling. Why not pick Todd Stroger for both spots? If he becomes president, he won't have a vote in board deliberations, where a sizable minority of the 17 commissioners are consistently anti-Stroger.

Here's the answer: Stroger's job, if he is elected, will be to present a pleasant black "face" of county government and to mumble platitudes about cutting spending. In actuality, he will preserve and protect his ward's jobs and those of the Daley machine's allies and generally do what County Board Finance Committee chairman John Daley, the mayor's brother, tells him to do. That's how it was under John Stroger.

Beavers' job is to interact with the other black commissioners and keep a majority of them sufficiently contented so that they will not undermine Stroger or try to strip away the plethora of county jobs in the 7th and 8th wards. Beavers, age 71, is in the sunset of his career, but he can perform a valuable service by protecting Stroger. In 4 years Beavers can retire and Stroger can take his seat as commissioner.
Now let's go to Beaver's 7th Ward. What's going on there?

7th Ward: Just east of the 8th Ward, running from 73rd Street to 101st Street, west of Torrence Avenue, in the area known as South Chicago, the ward is an industrial area with iron and steel plants, forges, food processors and grain elevators. It had a white Republican alderman, Nick Bohling, from 1943 to 1971. The ward is now about 60 percent black and 35 percent Hispanic.

Beavers beat Ray Castro, an ally of Ed Vrdolyak, by 8,488-7,288 (53.8 percent) in the 1983 runoff, buoyed by a huge Washington wave. He ousted Castro as Democratic committeeman in 1984 by 2,980-2,143, and he was re-elected alderman in 1987 with 58 percent of the vote, in 1991 with 54 percent, in 1995 with 56.3 percent and in 1999 with 65 percent, and in 2003 he was unopposed. Beavers is the chairman of the City Council Budget Committee and a loyal Daley supporter.

Observers already are comparing the expected Sandy Jackson-versus-Darcel Beavers clash to the 1995 primary in which Jesse Jackson Jr. won the vacant U.S. House seat. Jackson upset the favored Emil Jones, an "Old Guard" Democrat who now is the Illinois Senate president, by 30,017-24,097.

This scenario may arise again in 2007, with the Jacksons positioning themselves as reformers and the Beavers defending the established order. Everything depends on whether Stroger beats Peraica. If he does, the Stroger-Beavers machine will have the precinct troops to win. If Peraica wins, Beavers will be an irrelevant commissioner with control of few jobs.
Just a little taste of the southeast side of Chicago courtesy of Russ Stewart.

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