$10,000 Per Month for This?

The alderman has released the 2015 edition of her “50th Ward Year in Review,” a glossy, four-page puff piece replete with no fewer than a dozen photos of Herself; four of those include her husband, State Senator Ira, the power-behind-the-throne. Astute observers have long noted that the alderman rarely appears at public meetings or events without him, and can’t be found at all when he’s in Springfield doing his other job (he’s again running unopposed for both Democratic Committeeman and State Senator).

The report is a poorly written grammatical nightmare highlighting the alderman’s skill at doing the least important aspects of her job, like “hosting” annual events sponsored by the City (Movie in the Park, flu shot clinic). Like the alderman, the report is silent on economic development, arts and cultural events, or efforts to build community in our diverse neighborhood.

Routine matters like making residents aware of the city’s rain barrel program, hosting seminars, and giving backpacks to school children are described as “substantial accomplishments.” She recycles a re-election claim that she “organized” a multijurisdictional law enforcement task force but this time dresses it up with the claim that it’s “the-first-of-its-kind in Chicago…,” adding that the task force has operated in the 50th Ward for four years (or since she’s been alderman). The phrasing might make you think the idea of a task force originated with her as well.

Her seminars reach a minute fraction of ward residents. An attendee told me that one seminar attracted only eight participants. This year’s flu shot clinic was combined with a senior health fare; there were four vendors. Contrast that with the senior health fare put together by 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore, where more than 30 vendors and a free lunch attracted several hundred seniors.

These are the highlights of the first year of her second term? She’s paid nearly $10,000 per month for this? Silverstein is one of the higher-paid aldermen ($117,333 per year) because she accepted the last raise the City Council voted itself (in 2014); several other aldermen chose not to take it in solidarity with their constituents, hit hard by the recession. But she did. Is what she accomplishes worth the salary we pay her?

At this writing (December 16, 2015), she’s been in office 1,679 days, or 4 years, 7 months, and 4 days. The ward is still waiting for the “spirited economic development plan” she said was so necessary during her 2011 campaign.

She’s one of the Mayor’s most reliable votes, going along with his plans 98% of the time. She voted for the $5,000,000 settlement in the Laquan McDonald case, although she now claims she knew nothing about the video. That’s an admission that she didn’t know what she was voting for, or wasn’t paying attention when the matter was presented to the Council, since it was made clear at that time that the money would serve to prevent certain information from being released. The record from that infamous session shows that she asked no questions, but simply voted yes.

She did not introduce a single ordinance in the City Council last year.

She holds one annual meeting with her constituents. Other aldermen hold as many as eight.

Ten thousand dollars per month to arrange seminars and publicize rain barrel distribution?

Nice work if you can get it.








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