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Evans and the Machine


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To the editors:

Doug Cassel's article of March 17th seems more like a campaign piece for Tim Evans than a realistic analysis of his career. Cassel repeatedly suggests that Alderman Evans kept struggling against the Chicago Democratic machine in the years before Harold Washington's Mayoral victory. Yet those of us who observed his activities closely during those years have no such memories.

In 1976, when Ralph Metcalfe Sr. broke with the machine, Evans worked hard to defeat him. Following Metcalfe's death in 1978, black committeemen from the First Congressional District were summoned to City Hall and ordered to name Bennett Stewart as Metcalfe's successor. At the subsequent tumultuous meeting at Liberty Baptist Church, Evans followed orders and voted for Stewart. In 1980, Evans voted against Harold Washington for U.S. Representative in the party's slating session and worked hard to defeat him. In 1982, Evans left the slating session for the 26th State Representative District before a vote was taken on endorsing independent Democrat Barbara Flynn Currie for re-election. His departure came after it became obvious that a majority of the votes of the remaining committeemen would be cast against Currie and that Evans had enough votes to reverse this decision. He then worked very hard to defeat her, claiming that the decision of the remaining committeemen compelled him to do so.

Although Alderman Evans did oppose the Byrne remap of Chicago Wards in 1981, it may have been more than coincidental that the main effect of the new map in Evans' own 4th Ward was to replace a large number of docile machine-controlled voters with an equal number of rambunctious, independent Hyde Park voters. In a behind the scenes arrangement, before the final vote, he did succeed in swapping some of the Hyde Parkers for less independent residents of Grand Boulevard. This is hardly the record of a budding progressive, yearning to be fully liberated.

Alderman Evans espoused a highly independent, liberal agenda in the years of Harold Washington's mayoral administration, but he was in no position to do otherwise. Having observed his ambiguous career, many of us have no confidence in his forced conversion. The real tragedy of Chicago's mayoral election is that neither Tim Evans, nor either of his two opponents, offers any real movement towards a return to a municipal administration dedicated to Harold Washington's goal of even-handed, efficient, honest delivery of municipal services and opportunities to all residents.

Alan Mora Dobry
Fifth Ward Democratic Committeeman
S. Drexel

Doug Cassel replies:

I do not share Committeeman Dobry's subjective assessment of Evans. Had we spoken a month earlier, I would have used his anecdotes. However, since they fit my view of Evans's machine years, they would not have changed my overall assessment.

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