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It's Good To Be An Alderman

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 7, 2012 7:20PM

Ald. Anthony Beale (Image via Ald. Beale's website.)
The perks of occupying the Chicago City Council never seem to end for present and past members. Former 36th Ward Ald. John Rice apparently got pretty lucky in today’s tough economy, scoring a new $84,420 a year job the same day he applied for it. The Chicago News Cooperative obtained state records that showed the position was never open and Rice filed his application the same day he began work, though Rice said he applied online. Little more than a month after Rice left City Council, the Illinois Department of Transportation began the process to fill the brand new position of Deputy Director of Traffic Safety, Rice’s current title.

A spokesman for IDOT said the position wasn’t created specifically for Rice, but records showed that on the same page officials wrote “there is no proposed candidate at this time,” he was listed as a candidate. Nicholas Sposato, who ousted Rice as Alderman, said this represents “politics as usual in the city and the state.”

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times reports Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) had a fundraiser hosted for him by a lobbyist from the Chicago Taxicab Operators Association, a scant five days before Beale helped push through sweeping taxicab regulation reforms. Last year, Medallion Leasing & Management Co. shelled out $345,000 in fines for using wrecked “salvaged” cars as cabs. The city had to pull over 400 off the streets in 2010.

The reforms Beale helped to pass softened the financial blow to cab companies:

Instead of a $1 million bond and an immediate, 75,000-mile cap on cabs placed into service for the first time, aldermen agreed to a $200,000 bond and a three-year phase-in of the mileage cap imposed…

Beale denied any shady dealings, telling the Sun-Times the fundraiser was planned in advance of the reforms. “I was not part of those discussions. The industry and the commissioner and the mayor’s office all agreed to the changes. If everybody is in agreement, why would I disagree?”