The news: In February, 29th Ward Alderman Isaac Carothers resigned his post after pleading guilty to bribery charges.
Behind the news: Carothers’ resignation allows Mayor Richard M. Daley to appoint an alderman for the 35th time during his tenure. Almost half, or 17, of those appointments have been in the city’s 20 majority black wards, nearly twice as many as in the 15 majority white wards. In the past 10 years, seven of the 11 appointees, including Carothers’ replacement, have been in black wards, and only two have been in white wards.
Carothers replacement will be the 19th mayoral appointee on the current council. According to a University of Illinois at Chicago analysis, appointees are likely to vote with Daley, with 12 of the appointees on the council voting with the mayor on 100 percent of “key issues” between May 21, 2007, and April 30, 2008. “This is still a rubber-stamp city council,” said Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at UIC and former 44th Ward alderman. “There have been independent stirrings since the 2007 election, but it’s not enough.”
This voting pattern is especially problematic in black wards, where support for Daley is lowest, Simpson said. Appointments often create a disconnect between the alderman and the ward’s residents, who feel they aren’t being represented.
“A pro-Daley voting record isn’t a good thing in the black community, so those appointees become more vulnerable during elections,” he said.