Alderman Joseph Moore is that rarest of Chicago political creatures, a white antiadministration alderman. And judging from the beating he took at last week's City Council meeting, he belongs on the endangered list.
Moore was verbally ambushed when he suggested that some lucrative O'Hare Airport concession contracts being awarded to friends of Mayor Daley and his wife--the "powers that be," as he put it at one point--should have been sent out for competitive bidding. The contract recipients include Daley ally former state senator Jeremiah Joyce and a friend of Maggie Daley, Grace Barry.
Alderman Edward Burke threw the first punches. "I attended the committee on aviation hearing, and the gentleman from the 49th Ward certainly had the privilege of attending that committee hearing and posing those hard, tough, probative questions when the witnesses were there!" sneered Burke, voice dripping with enough sarcasm to fuel the space shuttle.
In contrast, Alderman William Beavers was, as usual, refreshingly candid in his own reasons for supporting the contracts. "You know, I'm glad to know that I'm one of the powers that be, you know, because, uh, those are some of my friends that got those contracts, and I didn't know I was so heavy, you know?" said Beavers. "But these are some of my friends, some of the people that I know that live in my community that's gonna have an opportunity to do business at the airport, and I'm glad."
Then Alderman Burton Natarus went right for the throat. "And I'll tell ya I deeply resent [Moore] mentioning the mayor and his wife with respect to this contract or reference to it," he thundered. "I just wantcha to know that if you want to go to the White House the person to call is Alderman Moore's wife. Why? Because she happens to be a personal friend of the wife of the president of the United States. If you want anything on a national level, I think you oughta go to Alderman Moore."
Moore was good-natured when he finally got a chance to defend himself. "First of all I hate to disappoint, uh, Alderman Natarus or anyone else who might be interested, but anyone, uh, looking to me for a federal contract is gonna be severely disappointed," he said. "I probably could get ya a White House tour, but I can't get ya a federal contract."
"I doubt at that, hehehe," snickered Daley.
"The fact of the matter is, Alderman Burke--" Moore was forced to pause while the council laughed at Daley's quip. "Alderman Burke, the fact of the matter is, that I wasn't at the aviation committee meeting, and um, but I didn't really need to be because the facts I'm concerned about are undisputed....Now perhaps I could've gone to the aviation committee and done a little showboating like uh, like uh, Alderman Burke you did when another man was occupying the mayor's chair, but that's really not my style and that's not really what the point I'm trying to make."
"Show Boat, that's comin' to town next week," Daley noted.
Burke got in a few last licks. "I guess the headline in the Washington Post could've been, uh, 'Powerful Alderman in Chicago Arranges for Wife to Get High White House Post.' But the fact of the matter is, that didn't happen. The fact of the matter is, is that Alderman Moore happens to be married to a very talented and able young lady who got a position in the White House on her own. God forbid anyone would suggest that a powerful Chicago alderman was able to arrange for his wife to get some kind of a high appointment! I would take umbrage at that," Burke smirked, clearly referring to his wife, Anne Burke, who was appointed a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court last year.