Monday, January 23, 2006

Vi Daley on the State of the 43rd Ward

My attitude toward my alderman, Vi Daley (no relation to the mayor), has been neutral to positive. Like many in the ward, I've had little contact with her. Once she turned down a request from my townhome association to resolve a problem with excessive parking tickets in our area. That was probably the right thing for her to do.

Another time I interviewed her about a local zoning conflict, and she seemed thoughtful, engaged, and not at all schmoozy. She was against the smoking ban, which I appreciated, and she supports public art in our neighborhood. She is not the kind of "Chicago politician" you read about in the papers.

My frustrations with her office have been mainly with their lack of communication. They're variable at best about returning phone calls and e-mails. You have to work hard too hard to unearth news about what's happening. Her website is helpful, but it's short on updates and details.

Therefore, I was a bit startled when I read that the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce was hosting a "State of the Ward" luncheon featuring Vi and the 42nd ward alderman Ted Matlak. A-ha! I had never been invited or offered an update on the state of my ward before so I ponied up the $35 and went. (See previous post here.)

After a round of stock speeches, Vi Daley got up to address the suits and skirts who do business in her ward. Her first item of business? The truckloads of donated goods our community shipped to victims of Katrina. She spoke with pride about our response and thanked Lincoln Park Market owner Bruce Longanecker for helping to make it happen.

Her next item of business? A firm vote of support for the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, which is undergoing a raucous fight with NIMBY's to expand its services to the poor. She expressed hope that a workable solution to protect the shelter's services could come of it.

Let me reiterate: at a chamber of commerce meeting she began with the priority that every community should hold and honor -- taking care of the less fortunate. Then she moved on to the business of growing our collective good fortune. Wow. I completely didn't expect it. What a happy surprise.

She didn't short-shrift businesses either. She identified an ordinance she got passed that will extend the city's summer sidewalk cafe season. This she did in a climate, to remind my readers from out of town, where many alderman prefer to ban foie gras and protect elephants.

As I suffer through the Bush administration, I'm understanding more deeply than I thought possible how much I value talented leadership. So far, it seems to me, that at least at the ward level, we've got the real thing. I'm thankful for it.

Coming soon: Alderman Matlak's comments on the 42nd.

Update: To be completely fair on the communications thing, someone in the alderman's office was kind enough to e-mail me a copy of the new call for entries in the Lincoln Park Community Art Initiative. I'll post soon. Thanks, alderman Daley's office.

6 comments:

Kuz said...

Remember too that Vi's office has always been very kind in helping Holy Covenant with our different fundraisers and everything.

At least we get the occasional e-mail from them. But what gives with the Democratic 43rd Ward office? Are they off the grid?

Jennifer said...

Yeah, absolutely, although I never have dealth w/her directly over the church stuff, but I know that others always find her office cooperative. I have NEVER heard or seen anything from the 43rd dems. They must be MIA.

Anonymous said...

City Hall is engulfed in scandal and Vi Daley remains a silent rubber stamp. Vi Daley was appointed to her position. In six years, Vi Daley has no accomplishments. There are concerns floating around about her realtor husband's business activities. It's by design that no one really knows much about Vi Daley.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. And let's not forget about her longtime stance on the community shelter: not wanting to ruffle the NIMBYs' feathers, she sat silent for months and let the opponents duke it out. (In fact, I think she may initially have been opposed to the permit!) Only when she saw that community support was overwhelming did she jump on the bandwagon. That's some commitment to the less fortunate.

Peter Zelchenko said...

Although I don't have the full details, I was told by one of those involved that Mrs. Daley was in fact on the side of the NIMBY group, on the urging of resident and former Alderman Bill Singer. If that is true, then it was wrong of her and of Mr. Singer.

Anonymous said...

In reading these comments I see that Vi Daley was against the smoking ordinance. Clearly, this is the wrong stance. I'm glad to see that she eventually supported the ban, but am very disappointed she was not more vocal in an effort to make it happen a lot sooner. I like Vi Daley support of the historic districts, parks, statues, roads etc., but I'm sick and tired of all the smoke in the bars. I can't even enjoy my neighborhood in the evening. What could be more important than that?