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Independence in City Hall?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 4, 2006 2:50PM

On Friday afternoon, Miguel Del Valle was sworn in as Chicago's newest city clerk. He's also the first Latino to serve in that position.

2006_12_delvalle.jpgDel Valle has a history of championing the political empowerment of the Latin community in Chicago, and a reputation for being able to work with many different groups, including those that are at odds with him. What makes his acceptance of Daley's offer to replace convicted former city clerk James Laski significant is his long history of being independent. The conventional political wisdom is that Daley will gain by shoring up some of his support among independents after two years of scandal and indictments. Even before he was sworn in, however, Del Valle's reputation as an independent took a hit when he allowed a lobbying firm headed by Victor Reyes to send out e-mail invitations to a campaign fundraiser in Springfield. Del Valle is running for city clerk in the upcoming Feb. 27 election. Reyes has been named as a co-conspirator in the recent City Hall hiring scandal.

Del Valle announced a platform of expedited "change," vowing not to accept campaign donations from "anyone who does business directly or indirectly" with the city clerk's office and limiting contributions from all other city contractors to $150. He said that he would eliminate the two bodyguards that come with his office, saying "I want police officers to be on the street and not guarding me.... I will not have a chauffeur who is a police officer." He also wants to create an Internet system for tracking bills before the city Council, and broadcasting sessions via live streaming video on-line.

While Chicagoist thinks the first proposal is a step in the right direction, and we always like seeing city resources diverted back into the neighborhoods, we hardly think this qualifies as real reform. Ending corruption, bribery and kickbacks in the clerk's office is a good start, but real change needs to be wholesale and complete to end the endemic exploitation of power that takes place in the city. Putting Del Valle into a position to run on a ticket with Da Mare is a classic Daley move. Pick a piece of the city's power structure and "clean it up," thereby making Daley look a little more progressive, a little more honest. Show us the real change, and we'll become true believers.