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…But It’s Still a Machine

By Alicia Dorr in News on Jun 21, 2006 8:37PM

The Tribune released a report today on a pretty interesting map they recently “acquired” (found under their doorway, got from the man smoking a cigarette in the alley—potato, potahto). This map essentially provided a list of the people with the most clout in Chicago—a lot of whom have been namedropped in federal court this week.

What makes the map interesting is not that it provides an easy look into who gets who hired (or fired) a’la patronage, it is who is on the list. The names linked to the federal investigation are not always aldermen or committeemen as they would have been in the old days of the Chicago machine. The people with the power—the power explicitly given directly by Daley—are lower-ranking and less visible city officials.

While it is what Alderman Joe Moore called the “worst-kept secret in Chicago,” it is still pretty intriguing to see the inner-workings of M. Daley’s machine. Not at all as obvious or hulking as the traditional machine, a system that was pretty much perfected in Chicago, this Mayor Daley’s machine is cleaner, and, in some ways, puts him in the center even more than his father was. Even as he claimed machine politics was done in the city, he was oiling the cogs in a new, equally effective machine. With lower level officials holding the most sway over city jobs through sponsorship of employees, aldermen and committeemen have to stay on their toes (read: rubberstamp) because it would be much easier to cut a bad one out—because they aren’t providing a “get out the vote” army as in days of yore.

It’s no secret at all that there is still a machine, and for many people in the city even this revelation isn’t much of a surprise. However, it’s still fun to imagine all the aldermen squirming around as they read the list, ruing the day this Daley basically cut them out of the equation. It’s also fun to check the list in general, because you might actually know someone. Do it up.

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