|Aldermen Edward Burke (left) and Edward R. Vrdolyak confer during a Council debate in 1985.|
"Mayor Washington was a friend, an ally and a mentor." -- Ald. Patrick O'Connor, former member of the Vrdolyak 29On Tuesday, we will elect the first black woman, either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle, as Chicago's mayor and already there is media chatter about a new round of Council Wars. If history is any clue, we can expect a bloc within the new city council, led by the remnants of the Rahm regime and the old Democratic Party machine, to conspire against the new mayor and the rest of the council's progressives.
For those too young to remember, council wars was the term used to describe the racist resistance to the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington.
It was organized by the two Eddies, Burke and Vrdolyak, who formed what came to be known as the Vrdolyak 29. Think, the racist Republican's opposition in congress as soon as Barack Obama was elected.
The 29 flexed their muscles in the council from 1983-1986. Now, there are only two survivors left. One of them, Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) is currently under indictment for attempted extortion for allegedly using his position as alderman to try to steer business to his private law firm from a company seeking to renovate a fast-food restaurant in his ward. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison where he's likely to join his old pal Vrdolyak.
The other is Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) who I have blogged about often, since he's served as Mayor Emanuel's floor leader and has spent much of his post-Vrdolyak years serving as the education committee chair for mayors Daley and Emanuel. He's been the ramrod pushing school closings, charters and vouchers and opposition to an elected school board. Rahm just made him chairman of the powerful finance committee, the post previously held by Burke.
Now O'Connor is locked in a fight for political survival in a runoff election against community activist Andre Vasquez. So what does O'Connor do to cover his left flank? He pitches himself as a mentee and close ally of Harold Washington. Unbelievable!
For more on O'Connor's attempt to rewrite history, here's brother Fred's blog response.
Let's hope voters see through this charade on Tuesday and elect Vasquez.
Here's the names of the Vrdolyak 29: