There are many reasons to criticize 44th Ward alderman Tom Tunney.
He's a dependable, yes-voting member of the mayor's City Council amen choir—unless the mayor wants him to vote no. Meaning Whatever you want, boss! is sort of his political credo.
Parking meter sale included.
What's worse, he has no excuse. A lot of aldermen will tell you, "Sorry, but I gotta go with the big guy or he'll cut services to my ward."
But Alderman Tunney's north-lakefront ward is one of the wealthiest in Chicago. It's the mayor's freaking base. No way this particular big guy's cutting services there.
That said—you can't legitimately blame him for the ongoing impasse over the redevelopment of Wrigley Field.
And yet for the last month or so he's been the recipient of a well-orchestrated shellacking that goes a little like this . . .
The Cubs only want to exercise their God-given right to do what they want with their property so they can make enough money to hire the ballplayers they need to win the long-suffering Cubdom a World Series championship.
But that dastardly Alderman Tunney, the most powerful man in Chicago, has used his immense clout to bring our World Series dream to a screeching halt!
Because the rooftop owners control him—and in this town, they call the shots!
Or as David Axelrod, whose old consulting firm represents the Rickettses, tweeted: "I love Wrigley, and hope Cubs stay," Axelrod tweeted. "But no team should be held hostage the way the Cubs have to rooftop owners and the ward pols they own."
I hope there's no one out there who actually believes that rebuilding Wrigley's about doing what must be done to win a World Series, as noble as that sounds.
Just as I hope no one out there really believes that closing schools is about helping poor kids learn more, as noble as that also sounds.
At this point, people, I think we can reasonably assume there's usually a baser, unmentioned motivation for why powerful people do the things they do.
In the case of Wrigley, it's about helping the Rickettses make more money out of their operations—not that there's anything wrong with that. And if by chance they should win a World Series—well, how 'bout that!
Which brings us back to Alderman Tunney.
Yes, an alderman's supposed to be the king of zoning in his ward. But an alderman only gets to control local zoning decisions until the mayor decides these decisions are too important for an alderman to control.
Then the mayor controls them—as Alderman Brendan Reilly discovered a few years ago when Mayor Daley tried to shove the Children's Museum into Grant Park.
In this matter, Tunney's main role's to play the scapegoat and divert criticism from Mayor Emanuel while he tries to cut a deal. I think even David Axelrod would agree that Tunney's done a great job of that.
And so as the negotiations drag on, I want everyone to take the Tom Tunney pledge . . .
"I do solemnly swear that I will not blame Tom Tunney for anything having to do with the Wrigley Field reconstruction project. We can blame him for lots of stuff. Like his council votes on TIFs and parking meter sales and mental health clinic closings, etc. But when it comes to the big deals, Tunney's 'only a pawn in game of life.' As Mongo might put it."
Now take the Mayor Emanuel pledge . . .
"I promise I won't vote for him next time."
Play ball, everyone!