Fallout from Burke charges felt in mayoral race; Council proposes reforms

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CHICAGO -- In the response to corruption charges filed against powerful alderman Ed Burke, several of his City Council colleagues are proposing reforms.

The aldermen want to make changes to the city council's finance committee which Burke controls.

They are calling for a third-party probe of a controversial $100 million workers comp program which Burke also controls.

They also want to change rules for aldermen who recuse themselves during a city council vote and bar outside employment by city council members.

In the meantime, mayoral candidates are on the attack and trying to get each other to drop out of the race by pointing out close political and financial ties to Burke.

With a broom in hand, Paul Vallas called for all mayoral candidates with political and financial ties to Burke to drop out of the race, including Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza and Burke-backed Gery Chico.

“It’s time to sweep the bums out period,” Vallas said.  “For too long too many have looked the other way and said this is the Chicago way well it doesn’t have to be that way.”

In response, Mendoza’s campaign said Vallas and Burke worked closely together when he was budget director for the city under former Mayor Richard Daley.  Mendoza’s campaign cited a Chicago Tribune article in which Burke called Vallas his “chief confidant.”

At the same time Mendoza has sought to distance herself from Burke. Her campaign said she has donated all money received from Burke’s committee to other causes. But Bill Daley and Preckwinkle’s campaign re-released a Mendoza campaign video from 2010 in which she sang the praises of the man she has called her mentor.

In the video, Mendoza said,  “Ald. Burke, you are a true champion of mine. He is really primarily the reason why I even stand before you today as a State Rep."

In a statement, Mendoza said Burke’s ward was in her district and she was proud to have a working relationship with every alderman in her district.  The statement goes on to say “the facts are clear: Gery Chico is Ed Burke’s endorsed candidate and just last year, Burke threw a fundraiser for Toni Preckwinkle that is now the subject of an FBI criminal complaint.”

In an about-face, Preckwinkle announced Sunday she would return $116,000 raised at a campaign fundraiser Burke hosted in his home for her last year. In an email Preckwinkle wrote she would not have her name dragged through the mud over Burke’s alleged conduct.

Mayor candidate and former police superintendent Garry McCarthy called Chicago politics “a culture of illegitimacy” during an appearance on Mancow Muller’s radio show.  He also called for Preckwinkle to bow out of the race and more.

Chico’s campaign said it doesn’t want Burke’s endorsement anymore and said Burke has only given Chico $1000 since 2004.



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