Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Battle of the political siblings – will we soon ‘begat’ another Stroger or Sawyer?

John Stroger and Eugene Sawyer have both moved along to the Great Beyond, so to speak. Yet their names don’t seem to wither away from our political scene.

We’re talking about a couple of South Side officials who rose to top-level posts – Cook County Board president and mayor, respectively – whose sons now are seeking a vacancy in the city’s political universe to try to advance their own careers.

FOR IT SEEMS that Todd Stroger – the former legislator and alderman who served a term as county board President himself – wants a political comeback.

He doesn’t like being a political nobody – which he became following his loss in 2010 to Toni Preckwinkle. Now, he’s talking about wanting to be the replacement for William Beavers, who likely is going to have to serve some time in a federal correctional institution following the “guilty” verdict reached by jurors recently on tax-related criminal charges.

But even if the committeemen from the South Side and nearby suburbs are willing to agree to let Stroger back into the universe of Chicago politics, he’s not going to have the post handed to him on a political platter.

For one of the other people who’s letting the committeemen know he’d like the post of Cook County commissioner from Chicago’s Southeastern portion and nearby suburbs is Ken Sawyer.

HE’S A COUSIN to 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer – who is a son to the late alderman-turned-mayor upon the death of Harold Washington.

If that isn’t enough people with ties to the Sawyer family, it also seems that the current alderman’s chief of staff, Brian Sleet, also has some thoughts dancing about his head of being able to call himself commissioner, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Which may be lower-ranking than alderman or congressman, but sure beats the heck out of being a hired staffer to an elected official.

Are we literally going to get factions of the Sawyer and Stroger families engaged in a civil war of sorts – with all the committeemen of the sixth and seventh wards trying to negotiate the best deals for themselves in exchange for their support from the special committee created by Cook County Democratic Chairman Joe Berrios to screen candidates for the post to which Beavers still had just over another year-and-a-half to serve?


Personally, I’d get a kick out of it if someone else came into the mix – and neither a Sawyer nor a Stroger wound up getting the position.

But let’s not forget the Book of Royko and all those “begats.” The mere existence of a familiar surname is bound to sway many of those who will have a say in this decision.

And for those whose distaste for Todd Stroger is just too intense for them to consider backing him for the post, I can’t help but think that someone whose ties to Sawyer ought to be considered the frontrunner.

ALTHOUGH I WONDER if the idea of having a Sawyer as alderman and as county commissioner will scare some people into thinking that too much political power will lie in one family. Then again, when the name was “Daley” and there were simultaneous sittings on the county board AND the mayor’s office, few were bothered.

Then again, that “Daley” name contains a certain appeal to a certain type of Chicagoan to the point that I’m convinced it will crop up again in a third generation – yet another “begat” for us to beget.

There’s also the fact that I’m certain there are some people who take all the Stroger trashing that Todd endures as some sort of bias. They’d be willing to disagree with it – particularly if they still have some sort of debts (not necessarily financial) owed to the family.

There also would be one way in which bringing Todd Stroger onto the county board would be all too appropriate.

FOR BEAVERS WAS usually the one county commissioner who was willing to defend Todd in some way. He’d usually mock talk of financial problems by saying they were created by the eagerness of some county officials to do away with the hike in the county’s portion of the sales tax that Stroger pushed through during his term in office.

Now that Beavers is gone, we’d lose what public opposition we could have to county board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Unless we have Todd Stroger sitting in that front row seat within easy eyeshot of
“Madame President” herself.

At the very least, it could make county board sessions for the next year or so all the more interesting – unless you get excited by the repeated efforts of commissioners to get their government colleague, Jerry “the Iceman” Butler to sing!


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