Deb & Ira, Talk to Us

The lesson of Watergate is that “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” The sexual harassment scandal involving Ira Silverstein cannot be covered up–the lady provided proof of her allegations. Unfortunately, the Silversteins have chosen to ignore the charges, which will make the expected outcome–his resignations as senator and Democratic committeeman–seem even worse. And it may well haunt her own re-election campaign.

The alderman began her Friday newsletter by reporting that her thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by last week’s terror attack in New York. Nowhere did she mention the same week’s accusations against her husband. Ira hasn’t issued any statements to his constituents either, even after the proofs of his behavior cost him his post as majority whip. What is he waiting for?

A public official accused of sexual harassment must respond with more than a bland statement that he is sorry if anything he did made a woman “uncomfortable” and that he awaits the Ethics Committee report on the propriety of his behavior. It’s simply astounding that he doesn’t understand the nature of his offenses. Once the proofs were provided (audio of phone calls, hundreds of Facebook posts), I think he became obliged to issue a statement to his constituents admitting that the accusations can be substantiated, that he is considering his options, and that he plans to remain in office pending the Ethics Committee decision. Both of his political jobs (senator, Democratic committeeman) are on the line, and it’s difficult to see how he can continue to serve in either position regardless of what the Ethics Committee does.  But he needs to communicate with the voters before that happens.

The alderman’s lack of rapport with the people she serves is well-known. She is difficult to approach, and visibly uncomfortable with constituent contact. I think she is simply unable to relate to her constituents well enough to acknowledge that allegations were made against her husband, that she supports him whether the charges are sustained or not, and that she, her husband, and their family would appreciate our prayers at this difficult time. That’s the standard PR line all politicians facing self-created scandals use. A few words could mean a lot. She has her own political future to consider.

The people of the 50th Ward and the residents of the 8th Senatorial District have a right to know Ira’s side of the story, including an explanation of the audio recordings and Facebook posts. We also have a right to know what will happen if Ira resigns as state senator and Democratic ward committeeman. The 50th Ward is not known for political activism or participation, and must guard against new candidates with the same old ideas. But we should have some information on what to expect and when, and that needs to be communicated now.

I wonder how much of a role the hubris arising from the Silversteins’ absolute political control of the 50th Ward played in all this: alderman, committeeman, state senator, de facto bosses of the Regular Democratic Organization. Every bit of power is theirs, and the stories of the way that power has been used are told in whispers. They destroy all rivals and take no prisoners. It’s easy to see how two political figures driven by power rather than service would find it unnecessary to acknowledge what happened last week. That doesn’t make it acceptable.

They had both better say something, and soon.

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5 thoughts on “Deb & Ira, Talk to Us

    • I agree. She was beatable last time but we lacked a candidate with broad appeal. This time it will be tougher because of Rahm’s new library and the completion of the street scape on Devon, although it has created more problems than it solved, and the problems that will be associated with the new library have yet to surface. Wait til the increase in traffic and parking issues start to affect residents.

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      • She’s beatable. Keep the message simple. But but but…they can easily refuse to accept signatures, a tactic that they probably will employ as Ira’s salary took a hit from that stalking/sex harr accusation.

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      • That library is easily a topic of debate. You don’t put a library on valuable tax generating property. That’s Alderman 101 stuff. They will be dirtier this election as Ira took a pay cut and MIGHT (probably not) lose the next election. Marriage counseling ain’t cheap

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  1. Ira is relying on his political base to deflect the charges of sexual harassment, and you can see the wagons circling around him on social media and even casual neighborhood comments: nothing has been proven yet, Ira is the real victim, his accuser is just looking for publicity, Ira’s was a nudnick but he’s OUR nudnick, blah blah blah.

    He’s up for re-election in November 2018, and if any one is pondering a challenge, that person ought to be circulating nominating petitions for the March 2018 primary.

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