Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tilting At Clout-Driven Windmills

You have to extend a note of sympathy to Brendan Reilly, alderman of Chicago's 42nd ward. The rookie politician has been beset on all sides by conflict and citizen complaints that he has no chance of righting.

Mr. Reilly is a freshman on the Chicago City Council, and he's not one of Mayor Daley's boys. That much is obvious, given Mr. Reilly's strong opposition to the relocating of the Children's Museum to a choice corner of Grant Park. The mayor wants the park moved there, as do his influential friends, and the museum is going there whether the people like it or not. This is Chicago, after all, the city that for some, at any rate.

Now the alderman has tried to take on the well-positioned owners of Dick's Last Resort, a bar that prides itself on being loud and rude to its neighbors. They've chosen to relocate as well, to an available spot at the bottom of the iconic Marina City towers. Unclouted residents of the complex don't want all the noise drifting up to their flats while they're trying to sleep, and they've turned to their alderman to put a stop to it. It's never going to happen. Mr. Reilly has no clout in City Hall.

If Alderman Reilly had been wise, he would have gone along with Mayor Daley on the Chicago Children's Museum deal. He would have gained political capital, which might have been spent on blocking Dick's Last Resort. Alas, the alderman tries to play fair, but this is Chicago after all, the city that works.

Efforts to label Marina City as a protected landmark will never get past the City Council, and Dick's will install their roll-up doors and the sound will travel out and bounce off the Chicago River and reverberate through Marina City.

When it's election time again, Mr. Reilly will have no accomplishments on his roster of repeated failures. Someone else will run against him, someone who understands how the city that works, works. The entrenched will become further entrenched, and Chicago will continue to work for a select few.

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