"Brunch With the Mayor" said the leaflet slipped under my door. "You are cordially invited to have lunch with Mayor Richard M. Daley and Mike Quigley, Aldermanic Candidate, 3600 N. Lake Shore Drive, Sunday, March 24, Noon in the lobby." Right down the street.
The building at 3600 is one of those glass-and-concrete high-rise condominium buildings that line the north lakefront. When I arrive for brunch, the elongated lobby is crowded. The median age here is definitely over 60 and there are very few men. A buffet, catered by Ann Sather's restaurant, is spread on a series of tables along one side: croissants, cinnamon rolls, chocolate-dipped strawberries, bagels and cream cheese, Swedish meatballs, and herbed chicken breasts. Elderly women, well-dressed, elaborately made-up, hair permed, wait in a long line for the buffet or sit on folding chairs, plates heaped full.
When the line has shrunk some and most people are seated, a tall sandy-haired man steps up to the microphone on the dais that's been set up at one end of the long lobby. His powerful voice booms through the hall as he introduces himself: Bill Marovitz, state senator from this district. "Coming here," he says, "where my aunt and uncle lived for many, many years is like coming home again. . . . This is a great, great building.
"I want to talk to you as neighbors, because I live just down the street--I own a condominium just down the street and have lived there for many, many years, and I'm very concerned about this community, I'm very concerned about this ward, I'm very concerned about this neighborhood."
The area, he says, is at a crossroads. "It could go one of two directions. It could go in a direction where people will be proud of it, where we'll have more policemen dealing with crime, we'll have better health care, safer streets, increased property values, that I think is of a concern to all of us. . . . Or we can go the way of Wilson Avenue. And I don't know if any of you have been to Wilson Avenue and taken your life in your hands, but it's a very dangerous area. We've got some very bad bars in that area.
"And people have asked me what's my complaint, what's my disagreement with the current alderman." (The name of Helen Shiller will never escape Marovitz's lips today.) "Well, let me tell you what is my complaint and my disagreement with the current alderman. Those bars on Wilson Avenue--this is just one example--those bars on Wilson Avenue are a scourge on the entire community, a scourge on the entire neighborhood. What's happened in those bars? There's been beatings, knifings, prostitution, dope deals."
Marovitz says that he's been trying to close those bars for a long time. "And you know who opposed us, who wanted to keep those bars open? The current alderman and Slim Coleman. They fought us to keep the bars open because those are their voters! Those are their people!"
Marovitz doesn't mention that the vote-dry effort took place some nine years ago, before Helen Shiller became alderman, or that liquor licenses are not granted by the alderman. "Those aren't my people," he continues. "I'm not concerned about them. I'm concerned with the people who live and work and earn in the neighborhood, and who raise families in the neighborhood, who've poured money into the neighborhood to make this a better and a safer place to live for all of us. That's why this election is a crossroads."
The senator begins to talk about the candidate. "He's got a very different agenda than the agenda of the current alderman. He doesn't want ten people living in one room so that they can vote for him. He doesn't want code violations and dope dealers and gangbangers on Kenmore and Wilson in Uptown.
"We've had too many fights in the city of Chicago for too long. . . . We've finally got ourselves a mayor who doesn't want to fight. . . . No more fights! No more Council Wars! The problem is we--and I'm a home owner here just like you are--we in the 46th Ward have an alderman who still wants to fight the mayor. . . . I don't want an alderman who's gonna fight with the mayor. I want an alderman who's gonna work with the mayor to make my neighborhood better. And Mike Quigley is that kind of a guy." There's a round of applause.
Quigley looks about 22 years old; he's actually 32. Short and pleasant-faced, he's been circulating through the crowd with his equally youthful wife, Heidi, and his daughter, Alison, who will turn two next month. As he steps to the microphone he eschews both the booming voice and strident charges of his mentor and former employer Marovitz. "Nine months ago we kicked off a campaign with a very simple theme: 'Moving forward together.'" It's a theme so simple, in fact, that it's reiteration will constitute the entirety of Quigley's speech:
"And moving forward has a very simple and basic understanding that everyone can comprehend. That is, let's clean up our vacant lots and build on them. Let's clean up Wilson Avenue. Together. 'Together' means let's end the protests, divisiveness, bringing people down to the City Council to protest, building tent city in Uptown, being the second highest ward in the city in voting against the mayor. Because I think even as children we learn, we're going to accomplish a lot more working together--putting down the weapons of war and sitting down and talking about things." (At this point the woman in front of me leans over and whispers to her neighbor, "I wish they'd try that in this building.") Quigley continues: "And I've done that with Mayor Daley.
"It's quite simple. You know we talk about big plans in the City Council and all the things we're going to be doing. And that's true. But basically it gets down to caring and hard work. And I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that for my family and I'm going to do that for all of you."
The mayor still isn't here, but Quigley has apparently exhausted his repertoire. Not so with Senator Marovitz, who bounds back to the mike to lambaste Shiller for supporting Danny Davis in the primary and Jesse Jackson in the last Illinois presidential primary. He has his chief of staff pass out absentee ballots. He asks for questions.
A woman stands up. "I have a statement," she says. There is some visible tension around the podium. "It's a thank-you," she says, and they relax. "I don't know whom to thank, but I have been walking in the park for years and sloshing through the water in the underpass, and the other day it was cleared up. I don't know who's responsible, but thank you."
"Well I guess you can thank the Streets and Sanitation Department or perhaps you can thank the Park District. But--" Obviously Marovitz does not want her thanks directed toward the current alderman.
"Who gives them their orders?" she asks. "I've been complaining about that for years."
Marovitz sees a way out. "Well, you know what?" he asks jovially. "I think finally we're moving toward having a city that works for everybody. Not for the southwest side or the west side or the northwest side or the lakefront but for everybody."
There's one more from the floor: "My husband and I came from working-class backgrounds and we are very conservative and we're ending our lives on Lake Shore Drive, where we've been wanting to live for years. And I want an alderman who is going to think just as much about me as about a homeless person who got there because they drank too much or ruined their life some other way."
Marovitz knows just how to respond: "When it comes to the homeless people, that's a very good question. Everybody's got a right to have a home and everybody's got a right to vote. But it seems very funny to me that just before the election the alderman calls all the homeless voters right here on Lake Shore Drive, so that 50 percent of all the homeless voters in the city of Chicago were in one precinct on Lake Shore Drive, just before the election, so that she could get them all to vote for her! And what did she do since then? She doubled the number since the primary, putting them all on Lake Shore Drive. Didn't ask anybody if she could use their facilities, didn't have a community meeting--she just moved them in!"
Mayor Daley finally arrives, enters to applause, and makes his way slowly down the aisle between the folding chairs, pausing at each row to shake every available hand. Coming into view as well are the first black faces to appear at this gathering. They belong to a photographer and bodyguard who accompany the mayor.
Daley approaches the dais, then circles it, shaking hands with each person standing around it. "Isn't he a lot better looking in person?" exults Marovitz, still at the mike.
Finally Daley is ready to speak. In a prepared speech like today's, he's more articulate than in his impromptu responses to the press.
"I'm here this afternoon, again, to endorse, uh, Mike Quigley. I have no bones about that. I have no qualms about endorsing him. Because like anything else in my administration for the last two years, I set a course of working together."
The mayor comes on strong, his forefinger extended toward the audience, arm jerking back and forth as the sentences burst explosively from his mouth. This style is exchanged momentarily for the expansive, inclusive gesture: arms spread wide and slowly raised. "Now I don't care what people's personal opinions are--liberals, conservatives--I really don't care. When it comes to moving the city forward, when it comes to getting legislation done [now returning to that jabbing forefinger], when it's becoming proactive--and I'm a proactive mayor--I put that legislation down there and I get it done. I'm only here for a limited period of time, and I want to get things done. I'm a manager. You know why I'm a manager? Because it's your money.
"Listen," Daley says. "There's a lot of things all the people want to do. But I'm-- It's up to you. We can't ask you to open your books every time and say 'Keep spending more and more money.' That's why I'm privatizing.
"And that's why I'm here for Mike Quigley. He's been fighting for this. He's been working very hard in this community. It's up to you to make a difference. It's up to you to say who do you want for alderman. And I have no qualms about it. I'm here endorsing him, he's endorsing me, and there's nothing wrong with that! Other politicians play that game. They're just like anybody else--they're politicians and don't make no bones about it."
It's hard to say why Daley is so defensive about endorsing someone. Unless it's something about endorsing Quigley. But he seems to realize he's become a little too wrapped up in this topic, and continues with his set speech: "And as mayor, I've been trying to move people forward. It's not a black, it's not a white, it's not a Hispanic, an Asian, it's not rich or poor or them versus us. If you have that, you're not only destroying the city, you're destroying the community and you're destroying families."
Unity is definitely Daley's theme. "And that's why I got endorsements from all the major newspapers. Because I sat everybody down and I said 'Don't tell me all your personal problems. I just want to get the job done.'
"And that's why Mike Quigley's concern is the community. His current concern is education. His concern is housing. His concern is taxes--you better believe it. Taxes that you pay! He's concerned about that. And that's why I'm here, asking you to go out, in the next seven or eight days, tell your friends and neighbors, come out April 2, vote for not only Rich Daley, but Mike Quigley. Thank you very much."
Daley moves back down the aisle, beaming and shaking a few more hands, trailed by his bodyguard. The crowd buzzes and disperses. Passing the buffet table, everything's gone but some Swedish meatballs, which one old man is busily spearing with a toothpick and stuffing into a coffee cup.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill Stamets.