It has been four full decades since Mike Royko, in his book “Boss,” included an aside about nepotism in the Chicago political scene.
|MELL: The newlywed|
You know, all those political people who “begat” even more political people for the next generation.
WELL, NOTHING HAS changed. That trend has continued well into the 21st Century. In fact, one of Royko’s examples (how “Joe Burke, ward boss and alderman, begat Edward Burke, ward boss and alderman”) can literally be extended yet another generation, since Eddie Burke – along with spouse and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke – have now “begat” Jennifer Burke of the state Pollution Control Board.
But I’m not about to complain about Jennifer Burke – who has legal credentials and may well be totally qualified for her new political post (and its $117,000 annual salary).
It’s just that in going through the news reports of recent days, it just strikes me as humorous how many of these “stories” involve the kids of Chicago-area politicos.
They’re doing good and bad. They’re making national news. And on some level, they may be causing their elder politico “parents’ to think to themselves, “You’re not too big for me to smack you upside the head.”
THE POLITICAL “KID” who is likely to draw the national attention is the daughter of 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell. Not Patti Blagojevich – she’s had her day in the public eye.
|Political parents Mell ...|
It’s other daughter Deborah, who got herself elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, has always made it publicly known that she is a lesbian in a committed relationship, and recently took advantage of the fact that neighboring state Iowa is one of the few in the country that permits gay couples to marry.
So at the age of 43, Deborah finally is “settling” down and putting aside her single gal days. She has a spouse, Christin Baker, who works for the YMCA. The couple has known each other for seven years.
Their relationship seems as legitimate as that of any married couple and certainly nothing that was rushed into – a fact that some ideologues are going to refuse to accept as they are now trying to push for legal measures that would allow their states to ignore the validity of marriages performed in other states.
|... Philip ...|
For Illinois only has the “civil union” concept, which allows the ideologues to claim that “real” marriage is only meant for them. Which is absurd.
Considering that this marriage took place in Davenport, Iowa, it was right across the Mississippi River from Illinois. It is a shame that ideology prevented the couple from making their union legal on our side of the river.
To his credit, Mell the alderman has long accepted his daughter’s orientation and isn’t one of those parents who lets hang-ups cause him to do something stupid.
NOT AS PLEASED these days (I’d bet) is one-time Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip, who has a step-son by wife Nancy. After Philip retired from the Legislature in 2003, step-son Randy Ramey rose to the ranks of the Legislature himself.
He also serves as head of the DuPage County Republican Party. Which is why it drew public attention when, on Sunday, he got caught driving his car while under the influence of alcohol.
To his credit, he’s not trying to deny what happened, or use his political influence to pressure people to go easy on him. Ramey went so far as to issue a public statement admitting he had been drinking.
“I am prepared to face the consequences,” he said, in that statement. “I am deeply sorry to disappoint my family and my constituents.”
THEN AGAIN, WHEN the police have him with a .179 blood/alcohol level (.08 is the legal standard for intoxication), being noble and accepting guilt is the only way to go.
Either that, or his step-father likely would have led the parade in giving him a tongue-lashing for his behavior. And those of us old enough to remember Pate know that man’s rhetoric can be downright blunt and chilling – when he wants to be.
Then, there’s the saga of Allyson Reboyras, whose father is 30th Ward Alderman Ariel Reboyras – which I’m sure has some political watchers saying is the most important of these tales because it involves the City Council.
Anyway, Allyson now has gainful employment. She is a secretary (annual salary, $37,570) for the state’s Liquor Control Commission.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reported this story as being merely the latest in a line of politically-motivated hires made in recent months by Gov. Pat Quinn – giving jobs on the state payroll to several people of political influence, although commission officials (including its chairman) claim there was no political pressure to hire her.
|... and Reboyras|
For the record, Allyson has been out of college for three years (a B.A. in political science). So this position could well be her introduction to government. Will she someday follow the route (a stint in the state Legislature, followed by a move up to a city or Cook County post) of many local aspiring politicos?
If so, we may well have to add the line, “Ariel Reboyras, alderman, begat Allyson Reboyras, yet to be determined” to that list of all the begatting that is a part of our local political scene.