by Ben Joravsky
About the only Chicagoan who comes out looking good in Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker profile of Barack Obama (yeah, it's in the issue with the cover) is Fourth Ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle.
She's depicted as a person of independence, integrity, and selfless dedication to her community -- one of the few politicians or activists in town who's not a sellout, hack, or Daley suck-up.
"Preckwinkle is a tall, commanding woman with a clipped gray Afro," Lizza writes. "She has represented her slice of the South Side for seventeen years and expresses no interest in higher office. On Chicago's City Council, she is often a dissenter against the wishes of Mayor Richard M. Daley."
Preckwinkle's quote about Obama, which closes Lizza's introduction, is particularly provocative: "'Can you get where he is and maintain your personal integrity?' she said. 'Is that the question?' She stared at me and grimaced. 'I'm going to pass on that.'"
Has Lizza's praise gone to her head? Has the prominence of her part in the profile changed her life?
"Not really," she says with a laugh. "I have been getting a lot of calls from the media."
And what are you telling them?
"Not much. I'm keeping my head down to avoid any more attacks of truthfulness."
Ouch. Who knew--she jokes . . .