Help Wanted: Candidates for Alderman | Bleader

Help Wanted: Candidates for Alderman


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If you happen to be looking for a $110,000-a-year job that involves answering lots of phone calls about garbage collection, getting pushed around by Mayor Daley and his minions, and resisting the impulse to accept bribes, City Hall is advertising a couple of openings you might be interested in.

Sure, you have to live in either the 1st or 29th Ward. But if you do, the mayor himself would like to hear from you. From a press release posted on the home page of the city's Web site:

"Mayor Richard M. Daley is seeking residents of the 1st and 29th Wards who are interested in being considered for Aldermen to apply to fill the vacancies in those wards. Applications should be submitted to the Mayor's Office by Friday, February 19, 2010."

To be qualified, candidates must be registered to vote, must be willing to disclose their business investments and property holdings, must have resided in the ward for at least a year, and—this is the big one—must "not have been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony."

This appears to be part of the mayor's new interest in running a government free of the appearance of corruption.

Traditionally a departing alderman would recommend a successor whom the mayor would formally appoint. That's happened more than 30 times since Daley became mayor in 1989. In most cases it resulted in a new alderman even more compliant than the one who'd left.

But the mayor played by different rules last summer, when 26th Ward alderman Billy Ocasio quit to go to work for Governor Pat Quinn. Daley rejected Ocasio's first and second choices and instead tapped county commissioner Roberto Maldonado.

This time he's got two slots to fill. Last month Manny Flores resigned his job as First Ward alderman when Quinn named him chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. And two weeks ago Isaac Carothers stepped down as 29th Ward alderman after pleading guilty to bribery and tax evasion.

Since then Daley's been eager to clean up City Hall. That means no more aldermanic appointments behind closed doors.

Instead, Daley will screen applicants behind closed doors.

The mayor has appointed 17 of the 48 current members of the council. He'll probably have at least one more vacancy to fill before the year's out. Fourth Ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle just won the Democratic nomination for Cook County board president. A lot of things can happen in the nine months before the general election, but a countywide surge of Republicanism won't be one of them.