Saturday, February 24, 2007

Where's the Machine?

There's something else I wanted to say about Ben Joravasky's Reader piece, "Daley is a Wife Beater, and I his spouse". Having already had my fill of chuckles over the whole thing - making a list of other such folks you could compare him to for similar over the topness to show just how whacked out of their mind this crowd is. I think I settled on Nero and Mao being the funniest. That's not the only chuckles to be had as you're reading through the obligatory litany punching bag issues, the bold shocking revelation that Chicago likes winners, followed by an ideological teary eyed plea for mercy, "A vote for the opposition—whoever the opposition is—is a vote of defiance against a system that needs to be changed". Of course as we all know, even if Red Line Chicago turns out in force to attempt to even make a statement, the election will still be a complete and thorough butt kicking.

I’ve had people tell me that as much as they despise the mayor’s policies they’re afraid to vote against him because chaos will ensue if he loses. I remember machine aldermen using that line as far back as 1979, when Jane Byrne was running against Mayor Michael Bilandic. To hear them talk, you’d have thought the city would fall apart—the Sears Tower would jump in the lake, as Mike Royko satirically put it four years later, when it was Harold Washington running against the machine and chaos again was predicted. Well, guess what: under Byrne and Washington, and Eugene Sawyer for that matter, city workers picked up the garbage, cleared the snow, salted the streets. The trains and buses ran—a hell of a lot better than they run today.

The implied premise is that The Machine is still alive in Chicago. That, Cermak's largely organic and somewhat popularist method of government from the 1930's still has the gears running today as it did during King Richard I's rule. That's a notion that I've never been certain of.

I believe that there are still some good ol' fashioned Machine based roots somewhere in the Daley II apparatus. I believe that there still is a good ol' boy network of political favoritism. I'm sure that there are still plenty of old mechanizations that remain in city government. I do not believe that when you sum up whatever is left of The Machine you still have any system that resembles Cermak's Machine which if you're tracing lineage, to say that Daley I was the result of the Cermak Machine, and Daley II is the result of Daley I you would have to find some similarities.

You may have something else. Maybe over the last 50 years the Machine has evolved. Or maybe the myth of the Machine perpetuates while the reality of it has been in a true decline since 83. Perhaps the reason why the Red Line Liberals have had so much difficulty defeating the Machine is because it no longer exists. It's possible that what's left of the Machine's architecture is woven so deeply into city government that it is not something that can be realized and rooted out by any increase in Aldermanic spine or reform Mayors.


Michael S,  12:57 PM  

Under your version of the law you could marry Mayor Daley.

Engage Joravsky on the specifics not logicaly fallacy.

dan l 1:35 PM  

I wasn't aware I was trying to engage him. I'm just asking whether or not his vision of the machine really exists.

It's good to see that Queer Bashers and Daley Haters compartmentalize themselves so nicely together.

Pat Hickey 1:36 PM  

As Tony Peraica once put it, it’s “infantile” to live in fear and awe of one man.

Wow! Does not sound like much - but give it time - and a few more loco-weed puffers like young Ben and LateNight Tony will sound like Pericles.

Dan, the more these Boutique Citizens jabber the more giggles real citizens get out here in the real world. It ain't Wicker Park but our neighbors can be counted upon.

Benny Boy - didn't he write that giggle-piece that had Mike Quigley looking like a full-sized person? The one that called him "the TIF buster! I really need to spend some time up there with the oxygen deprived hipsters - I am such a square.

dan l 2:05 PM  

I really need to spend some time up there with the oxygen deprived hipsters - I am such a square.


You're dead on. The majority of the criticism does seem to stem from Red Line Chicago - which is to say that most of them don't actually live in a real neighborhood, just the urban transient zones before they move back out to Schaumberg to raise their kids. Those that go we'll never hear from again. Those that stay, change their name to "Randall Sherman" and wear out their T, I, and F keys by billowing into whatever text box they can find.

Anonymous,  2:18 PM  


Has anybody ever found the Illinois Committee for Honest Government (Yeah and no TIF's either, dammit!) web page? I know they have award ceremonies in Paddy's basement with an option of getting free credit counseling from Frank Avilia.

You would think that being a 20 year old legitimate organization they would have a web page that's easy to find. Jesus, or at least a myspace page or something.

Anonymous,  2:25 PM  

There's not really any doubt in my mind that the machine still exists. Just take a look at Mike Madigan--here's a guy that sits on a warchest of campaign cash and doles it out to those candidates willing to do his bidding. It's not right for one guy to have so much influence over the House Rules Committee and be able to decide what bills not only come to a vote but what bills can even be debated!

Pat Hickey 3:03 PM  

Yeah, Let's do away with greatness altogether. Let's have a level playing field comprised of flathead mediocrities. Whinning oddballs that never had an original thought in their lives ( beyond, of course, an after-thought)and had to have someone like Mike Madigan's power pointed out to them by some tweedy turnip like Dick Simpson - who had it explained to him by an off-duty fireman at the house down the block from Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap.

Come on ! The Great Whines of Illinois!

Len Torres,  3:24 PM  

Dan and Pat and anyone else, If you want to learn where the Chicago Machine in it's ugliest form operates please come to the 12th ward, you can also come to the 25th, 22nd and 10th wards. That is the limit of my current political activities.

The jobs and services are controlled and not given by need or merit. Drug dealers and gang members get jobs and intimidate people at election time. There is vote fraud. Job hiring, promotion, firing, transfers, overtime are controlled not by the qualifications or quality of jobs but by politics, family relations, sexual relations, or punitive reasons.

The wards are dirty, have bad schools, mediocre services, mediocre police response and bad community relations. The Blue line had night and weekend service cut. I am not a red line rider and have had the same car for about 7 years now. CTA service is bad but there is one new station built and some of the stations are cleaner but the service has been cut.

I am voting for Mayor Daley. However, there is a machine in our neighborhoods it is not indigenous, it is not good, it is not part of a positive 19th ward machine like Hickey has and I wish we could have. It is called the Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO) and the foot soldiers are mostly gang members or former gang members who I know and the leaders are ignorant and petty who we have no access to becuase they override the elected officials and elections. This is a bad machine. I am all for a good precinct captain, patronage, favors, community unity, being with Daley so he can bring good stuff back. HDO and most of the politics that is enforced on the Hispanic community, especially the South Side Mexican community is terrible.

There are some good guys, Danny Solis is almost a good guy and Sussana Mendoza is a great state rep.
We hope and are working hard that Jorge Cardenas does not get another term and it might be Carina Sanchez or Jesus Salazar. The 10th ward is corrupt to the bone and the corruption does not create good for people like in the 11th ward.

The Machine does not work everywhere. It certainly does not work for Hispanics.

Anonymous,  3:40 PM  

However, there is a machine in our neighborhoods it is not indigenous, it is not good, it is not part of a positive 19th ward machine like Hickey has and I wish we could have.

Good machine v. bad machine? I'm probably going to end up agreeing with you here,please 'splain further.

dan l 3:44 PM  

That was me, btw. I was under the impression that Hispanics were finally starting to feel as though they've been accepted into the Machine, with far greater success than the black community whom seems liek they're just now coming on board.

And thank you Len, you get Dan's Commenter of the Day award, for managing to write an actual reflective and critical comment without using the word "TIF".

Buck Turgidson,  6:49 PM  

I'm not sure how long Comrade Ben stroked his goatee over that opinion/article (the lines being unclear), but I can say confidently that Walls and Brown would not exactly be a breath of fresh air.

Walls is an operator, plain and simple. A smooth-talking BS artist whose record of accomplishment with the Washington Administration and beyond is dubious at bet.

As to Dorothy Brown, well, anyone who's had to work with the Clerk's office can probably tell you it isn't exactly a model of efficiency. While she isn't technically part of any machine, per se, she runs a shoddy operation packed with her own supporters. She may be an MBA and a CPA, but trust me, there are plenty of MBAs and CPAs who shouldn't be mayor. She's one.

Anonymous,  9:22 PM  

The Machine is alive in 11, 19 and 13.
It is even half dead in 14.
It is alive but a midget in 23.
But it is dead in 15, 16, and 18. At least the white areas left.

The machine is dead in 41, barely alive in 38 and 39, middle age but bad health in 38 and alive in 36.
The machine is weak in 40 but alive, and small but strong in 33.

The Black machines are 29, 8, 7 and to a lesser extent 17. But are dead elswhere.

No strong Hispanic Machine "wards" but HDO is machine and controls jobs.

No Lakefront Machines. No strong North Side machines with the notable exception of Mell and Banks.

Few Black Machine Wards besides the Stroger clan, Ike Carothers, and to lesser extents Beavers and and 17.

For most people they don't know what TIFs are.

The new laws, new enforcement by Patrick Fitzgerald, the Shakman current court victories, and Sorich/Slatter/McCarthy/Sullivan convictions (and assuming more coming)--Patronage will be around but not as strong.
HDO will probably have to reincarnate into something else but some of the leaders may go on Federal vacation.

11 and 19 are the strongest and best examples of machine wards. But while 19 has jobs, judges etc. they have a lot more democracy and education than 11. The current race is at least contested in 19 usually 11 has no races.

There are some suburban machines left but not many and certainly that cannot control races other than there own.

A good measure of a good ward organization is their ability to produce predicted votes and a victory for Sanitary District and Judges.

The Machine is not dead but it is not the same and does not have the same influence. It is what it is.

Randall Sherman 10:28 PM  

Note to dan l: I'm sure that the owners of Plush Chicago really like your snide remark about their facility, which was a fairly nice place to hold the Illinois Committee for Honest Government's 21st Distringuished Service Awards Reception. We chose the site in part because it was close to the expressway system (1/2 mile west of the Kennedy), which allowed candidates to stop by and attend and then get back on the campaign trail.

The event was held a little closer to the elections than we noramlly had, but then it would not had made much political sense to hold it a week earlier, opposite that little football game between the Bears and the Colts.

As for your main gripe about the Illinois Committee for Honest Government's lack of what you consider an effective website, that is a matter that we intend to addres in due order. However, in the past couple of months we have had some more pressing concerns. These have included evaluating aldremanic candidates, producing numerous programs on the Chicago Access Network featuring candidates running in Tuesday's elections, and testitfying before the Cook County Board at their budget hearings. In order to give this work maximum exposure, we have graciously accepted the opportunity for our Cable-TV programs to be seen on the ChicagoClout blog site ( as well on AlderTrack web site( As a result these programs have bee n seen on the Internet within two or three days of their taping.

If this isn't goo enough for you dan l, that's just too bad. For the rest of you, CAN-TV will be airing seven half-hour interview programs with candidates produced by the ICHG between this moment and the opening of the polls in less than 56 hours:

Saturday night/Sunday morning: 9th Ward Aldermanic candidate Earick D. Rayburn, midnight, CAN-TV Channel 19.

Sunday - 8:30 am: Mayoral candiate Dorothy Brown and 3rd Ward Aldermanic candidate Pat Dowell, Channel 21.

Sunday - 5 pm: Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), Channel 19.

Sunday - 5:30 pm: Ald. Ed H. Smith (28th Ward), Channel 19.

Monday - noon: Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), Channel 19.

Monday - 12:30 pm: Ald. Ed H. Smith (28th Ward), Channel 19.

Monday - 11 pm: Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward), Channel 21.

(Perhaps someone can ask dan l what opportunities he has created in this campaign season for candidates to air their views on issues, and for voters to learn as much as they can about the candidates they are supposed to choose from on Tuesday.)

Secretary/Treasurer, Illinois Committee for Honest Government

Anonymous,  6:39 AM  

Has anyone noticed the front page of AlderTrack ( since last night?

Apparently some news is about to break in the tight 2nd Ward race.

dan l 9:49 AM  

As for your main gripe about the Illinois Committee for Honest Government's lack of what you consider an effective website, that is a matter that we intend to addres in due order.

Yes. 15 years since the internet revolution began and you haven't had time.

For extra fun, everybody read Randall's comment in Comic Book Guy voice.

Pat Hickey 10:31 AM  

LMFWIAO - Dan, I did!

Anonymous,  12:33 PM  

Nice work Dan! Anon 9:22, you better good a good book while you wait for more indictments, its more likely that Sorich and the boys walk after appeal.

Anonymous,  2:48 PM  

Patronage is fine.

BUT we have to draw the line at Heroin dealers and Hired Trucks.

ALSO, we should have some expectation of quality, no ghost payrolling, and eventually getting a job done.
Some meritocracy and fairness are good.

Actually I heard that Sorich is a good guy, don't know him personally. BUT, will tell you that Victor Reyes, Tim Mitchell, John Dorrer and others were jerks who hurt a lot of people and did a lot of stuff besides getting political workers jobs.

Anonymous,  7:27 PM  

If this group produces cable television programs that help people inform themselves about aldermanic races--what is wrong with that?

Most television and even print don't give enough attention to aldermanic candidates. I would thank this group or anyone else who wants to do some articles, interviews in print on the internet written, or visual TV shows or audio radio--TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CANDIDATES. It doesn't happen enough.

What this group is doing is great.

Anonymous,  8:18 PM  

Saying there is NO MACHINE is like SCREWTAPE LETTERS by CS LEWIS when the one demon tells the other to make people believe there is no real evil, no devil, and no demons.

The greatest trick Satan did on humans was making them believe there was no Satan.

There is a Daley machine and it is nothing nice.

Levois 9:24 PM  

I think there is a semblance of a machine. It may not be the machine of old but whether it operate through a more fluid structure than it did in the days of old it's still a machine. Especially if people are still going to jail over some hiring scandals and such.

Rev. Scott Willis,  1:16 PM  

> ... what's left of the Machine's architecture is woven so deeply into city government that it is not something that can be realized and rooted out ...

A little corruption never hurt anyone.

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