WBEZ | Patrick O'Connor http://www.wbez.org/tags/patrick-oconnor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Digesting the mayor's proposed budget with Ald. O'Connor http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/digesting-mayors-budget-proposal-ald-oconnor-93113 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/rahm hearing WBEZ.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Emanuel delivered his view of Chicago’s fiscal future Wednesday: He presented his <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info/2012%20Budget/2012BudgetOverview.pdf" target="_blank">2012 budget</a> to Chicago’s City Council. In order to close a deficit expected to run over $600 million, the mayor utilized a number of different tactics. He did not propose a raise in property or income taxes but, the rate for downtown parking, water, and in some cases, vehicle stickers would increase. And under the budget, some things could go away--more than 500 city workers might receive pink slips, three police districts were slated to close and library hours could be reduced. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> wondered if the proposals could make a dent in Chicago’s chronic deficit scenario--could they pull the city out of its dire financial state? And moreover, will aldermen pass the budget? To find out, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to <a href="http://www.aldermanoconnor.com/" target="_blank">Ald. Patrick O’Connor</a> (40th).</p><p>A note – <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> invited Mayor Emanuel to join the conversation but his office said he wasn’t available. The show also reached out to budget director Alexandra Holt but did not hear back about her availability.</p><p><em>Music Button: Mike Reed's People Places and Things, "It's Enough", from the album About Us, (482 Music)</em><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 14:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/digesting-mayors-budget-proposal-ald-oconnor-93113 Ald. Patrick O'Connor talks new position of power in City Council http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-09/ald-patrick-oconnor-talks-new-position-power-city-council-87626 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-09/Pat O&#039;Connor Bill Healy.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/supp_info/about_the_mayor.html" target="_blank">Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s</a> election is a big transition for many Chicagoans. But with all the problems facing Chicago, the introductory period is, for the most part, over.<br> <br> <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>plans on doing regular check-ins during the first 100 days of the Emanuel administration, for a series called <em>The First 100</em>. The series will convene the day after City Council meetings.<br> <br> But first, host Alison Cuddy spoke to one of the stewards of change: 40th ward <a href="http://www.aldermanoconnor.com/about/" target="_blank">Alderman Patrick O’Connor</a>. The long-time Alderman has a new post as Chairman of the Committee on Audit and Workforce Development.</p></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-09/ald-patrick-oconnor-talks-new-position-power-city-council-87626 Chicago aldermen propose random drug testing for city employees http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-aldermen-propose-random-drug-testing-city-employees-87611 <p><p>Two Chicago aldermen say they want random drug testing for all city employees.</p><p>14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke and 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor proposed legislation that would mandate random screening. If passed, anybody who works for the city could be tested, including city council members.</p><p>At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wouldn't say how he felt about the proposal.</p><p>"I gotta read it, I gotta hear what the hearings are, I gotta see what the opinions are, and vice versa," Emanuel said. "I haven't read it and I don't want to give an opinion on something I haven't read, okay?"</p><p>In a statement, Burke and O'Connor say the testing would help protect residents from errors in judgement by city employees.</p><p>The ordinance now moves to the Workforce Development and Audit Committee, which is chaired by O'Connor.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-aldermen-propose-random-drug-testing-city-employees-87611 How long will Emanuel's City Council honeymoon last? http://www.wbez.org/story/how-long-will-emanuels-city-council-honeymoon-last-86538 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-16/Chicago City Hall_Flickr_Mason.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Monday, Rahm Emanuel - Chicago's next mayor - will be sworn-in.&nbsp;So will the 50 members of the city council. It's the official first date in a relationship that's bound to be tested, especially as the city deals with major budget problems.</p><p>Retiring Mayor Richard Daley hated when reporters referred to the city council as a "rubber stamp" for his proposals.</p><p>"None of them are a rubber stamp, regardless of what you say," Daley said at a news conference earlier this month. "I worked each and every one of [the aldermen] continually, whether they agreed or disagreed with me on many, many issues."</p><p>The "rubber stamp" label is also dismissed by aldermen - even some of Daley's most frequent critics.&nbsp;Sure, they knock him as autocratic and, at times, undemocratic.&nbsp;But they point out the administration did a lot of work behind the scenes to find compromises.</p><p>Alderman Leslie Hairston of the 5th Ward thinks the media missed this part of the story.</p><p>"Unfortunately, all we see is the day at the council after all the work has been done and there's no acknowledgement to the other work that has been going on before we get to the council floor," Hairston said.</p><p>Still, Hairston said Daley came up short on some issues important to her, such as economic development in her South Side ward. And she says she likes some things she's hearing from Emanuel.</p><p>In fact, the mayor-elect is coming off a transition that's been nearly free of aldermanic criticism.</p><p>He waded into some city council runoffs, spending close to $300,000. Seven of the 10 candidates he endorsed won. Emanuel denied he was just trying to buy a friendly council.</p><p>"We don't want a rubber stamp city council, and we don't want council war," Emanuel said in March, shortly after his campaign announced he was forming a political action committee. "I want a council that will part of the reform agenda, and be a partner in that effort."</p><p>So, a middle ground between a go along get-along city council like what's existed under Daley, and a council at war with itself, like what happened during the first term of Mayor Harold Washington. But where is that middle ground? Some disagreement, just not angry disagreement?</p><p>If you hear Ald. Bob Fioretti of the 2nd Ward explain it, it sounds a touch Kumbaya-ish.</p><p>"Working together doesn't mean that you're against each other," Fioretti said. "It's how we all lock arms with all of our citizens to move the city forward."</p><p>That all sounds great. But is it actually going to happen?</p><p>"I think it will," he said. "I think we're going to see differences disappear, because I think every one of the 50 aldermen that're coming in and the new mayor realize what a financial problem that we have."</p><p>But don't expect aldermen to instantly lock arms with the new mayor, and agree on cuts to erase a $587 million budget deficit.</p><p>Jason Ervin was appointed in January to represent Chicago's 28th Ward on the far West Side, an area of the city he says has been short-changed in the past.</p><p>"I understand you've got to balance the budget, but because so much has gone on and has not happened in the ward that balancing the budget on the backs of the residents of the 28th Ward is not a good thing," Ervin said.</p><p>Ervin said he relayed that message directly to the mayor-elect. And how did Emanuel respond?</p><p>"Well, I won't way it was overly negative or positive," Ervin recalled. "You know, I understand his position, and I want him to understand mine."</p><p>The first responsibility of the new council will be to pick its leaders.&nbsp;Technically, Emanuel has no say in this, but he says he came up with a plan after talking with every alderman.&nbsp;It would shrink the number of council committees.</p><p>Alderman Ed Burke of the 14th Ward, who supported an opponent of Emanuel's in the mayoral campaign, keeps his committee but would lose some power, while an Emanuel ally, 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O'Connor, gains influence.</p><p>Emanuel's plan also includes a bone for a longtime foe of Mayor Daley's.&nbsp;Alderman Joe Moore, 49th Ward, would chair the Human Relations Committee. Moore never got a committee chairmanship while Daley was in charge, despite serving in the council for 20 years.</p><p>"The only committees I chaired were ad-hoc committees that I named myself chairman of," Moore said with a laugh. "But, no. This is the first time I've been a chairman in a city council committee."</p><p>Moore sounds excited - giddy, even - about post-Daley politics at City Hall. He said he has chatted with Emanuel four or five times since the election, and said he feels like he's being listened to.</p><p>"I think we're dealing with a new paradigm here," Moore said. "The old divisions between...independent aldermen...and machine aldermen...I don't think those divisions really have as much meaning now that we're facing these very difficult issues that don't fall neatly along ideological lines."</p><p>This does not mean there won't still be disagreements in the council, still be divisions. Moore just said he thinks the alliances will shift, depending on the issue.</p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/how-long-will-emanuels-city-council-honeymoon-last-86538 Burke keeps Finance and loses anyway http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-05-11/burke-keeps-finance-and-loses-anyway-86430 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-12/burke and rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-11/b%26r.jpg" title="" width="259" height="350"></p><p>In letting word out that Chicago Ald. Edward Burke (14<sup>th</sup>) gets to keep the chairmanship of a somewhat diminished Finance Committee in the new City Council, there’s a suggestion of civility in both Burke and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel that papers over what actually happened.</p><p>I’ve loved hearing Burke talk about how he’d love to keep the committee but it’s up to the City Council – as if he hasn’t been molding that legislative body into his own design for decades. If we’re willing to suspend disbelief, Burke’s narrative now is that he’s an elder statesman, committed to the civic cause, happy to do his part – which is whatever the new mayor and new council determine for him.</p><p>And Emanuel’s posture as forgiving, as above the petty politics of the campaign (Burke’s not-so-hidden attempt to knock him off the ballot, or the anti-Rahm campaign of his puppet Gery Chico), gives him another opportunity to keep cleaning up his ruthless tough guy image. I mean, look, he’s letting Burke keep the Finance Committee, and if he’s taken away some of its powers, well, hey, that’s not personal – it’s in the interest of legislative efficiency and cost-cutting.</p><p>But the pow-wow at 40<sup>th</sup> ward Ald. Patrick O’Connor’s house aside, this is a lot less about two titans choosing to put their swords down than about the aftermath of a battle that’s already been won – and lost.</p><p>And have no doubt about it, Burke lost. And it was epic. That he gets to stay on as chair of the Finance Committee is not a sign of enduring power. What Emanuel is doing is letting him keep the crown while looting his kingdom.</p><p>We already know that there will be a new committee, the Workforce Development and Audit Committee, headed by O’Connor, the new mayor’s floor leader. The new committee will take over the most important thing the Finance Committee did under Burke: It will shepherd every single piece of proposed legislation to the City Council.</p><p>So it will now be Emanuel’s man, O’Connor, not Burke, who will have the power to move or kill legislation without even taking a council vote. (Yes, it has been an <em>awesome</em> power.)</p><p>And that’s just one of many authorities that Burke’s Finance Committee has been slowly usurping since the City Council was re-configured when Harold Washington became mayor in 1983 and the white aldermen – with Burke as one of two princes – pulled a legislative coup d’état to keep Washington’s policies from taking effect.</p><p>Though we’ve had two mayors since Washington -- Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley -- the City Council has not had an overhaul of any significance in 20+ years. Some committees have altered their names, some have been dropped, a few have been added. But the core of the council – the power bloc created to run the city with Finance as the axis – has remained essentially the same.</p><p>Why? Because Sawyer didn’t have the clout to change it, and Daley didn’t need to: He and Burke managed to co-exist by respecting each other’s spheres of influence.</p><p>We don’t yet know what else, if anything, Emanuel will move from the Finance Committee. But under Burke, the Finance Committee has had approval on all expenditures and revenues in the city. Which means Burke has been the absolute bottom line.&nbsp;</p><p>Under Burke, almost all of the council’s legal work has run through Finance – and there are already rumblings about Emanuel's displeasure over possible conflicts of interest, not just Burke’s, of course, but including Burke’s.</p><p>Finance has also administered Workmen’s Comp claims, which should probably have been handled by Human Resources, not a City Council committee, in the first place. And it has also jurisdiction over simple personnel matters, like extended sick leave and military leave – which can make all the difference to city employees – that are traditionally administered by, and more rightly belong to, HR.</p><p>Some aldermen may have been publicly saying they wouldn’t stand for Emanuel taking away Burke’s committee, but I suspect no one will balk too terribly much over this or any other change.</p><p>Emanuel’s keeping veterans Carrie Austin (34<sup>th</sup>) on Budget and Dick Mell (33<sup>rd</sup>) on Rules, which offsets any ruffled feathers. He’s also letting Danny Solis (25<sup>th</sup>) keep Zoning, which has absorbed Building and Landmarks (if you thought Solis was a suck-up to power before…).</p><p>It’s not that Burke won’t continue to be a player and exert influence. He will. His campaign chest, while not as rich as Emanuel’s, will still be useful. And he is a parliamentarian master, known to even go back and <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/5166930-418/ald.-ed-burkes-law-firm-adds-clients-with-ties-to-local-government">legally rewrite history</a>.</p><p>But Burke is 67, and maybe good for another 10 years, and unless you’re an alderman with aspirations to be a local judge and need Burke to slate you, you would do well to consider playing on Emanuel’s team.</p><p>No, Emanuel’s not going to be mayor-for-life. But he’s gonna enjoy his victory for a while. And while Burke is keeping his title, the new mayor’s already having fun.</p></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 01:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-05-11/burke-keeps-finance-and-loses-anyway-86430