Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn are both nominally Democrats, but their dispute over the gambling expansion bill is making it clear that they belong to two different factions in Chicago politics: Emanuel is a regular, and Quinn is an independent.
Consider the positions they’re taking on gambling. Quinn is reluctant to sign the bill because it weakens the ethical oversight of the Illinois Gaming Board by creating new bodies to oversee a Chicago casino and slots at Downstate racetracks. He’s worried gambling could fall under the sway of organized crime, politically-connected insiders or political insiders connected to organized crime.
Emanuel pooh-poohed Quinn’s ethical concerns.
“I believe fundamentally that growing the economy, creating jobs and proper oversight go hand-in-hand. And we’ve had proper oversight of casinos. What we have lacked is the job creation and the economic development. And I want the economic development and the job creation to come first. I’m tired of it being second place,” he said.
“I’m all for proper oversight. That’s not an either-or choice. We’ve had casinos and we’ve had a strong board. We have strong oversight. What’s missing is, Chicago hasn’t had a casino and Chicago hasn’t invested in its infrastructure. ... I’ve agreed to those [additional safeguards]. The governor and I have met on it. He knows that. Everybody knows that, and everybody’s ready to do that. Let’s get off this either-or to ‘Yes, we can.’”
Yeah, well that could serve as a motto for the City That Works. Handing out jobs has always been seen as a spoil of winning elections, a way to cement the loyalty of political supporters. Emanuel, who grew up under this system, as a fundraiser for Mayor Richard M. Daley, is clearly frustrated that a goo-goo like Quinn is messing up the system.
Quinn is a reformer who got his start in politics by leading a petition drive to fire a third of the state legislature. Independents, who tend to be white, well-educated professionals, are less tolerant of politically-motivated hiring, because they already have good jobs. The Daleys found it so difficult to control Hyde Park because they had nothing to offer its doctors and professors.
Maybe that’s why Emanuel can’t control Quinn: he’s already got a job that the mayor can’t take away.
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