Our Lazy Alderman

A new report from WBEZ-The Daily Line proves once again that Debra Silverstein is one of the laziest aldermen in the City. Silverstein attended only 56% of meetings of various committees and the City Council between May 2015 and December 2018. Silverstein managed to attend 200 of 360 meetings to earn her $10,000 per month salary. The average attendance rate for aldermen was 65%..

At both recent forums and in her campaign literature, she claims to be a hardworking alderman, “fighting” for money for the 50th Ward. At the Feb. 10 forum, she claimed that being alderman is “a 24/7 job,” and at the earlier forum said that people stop her while she’s shopping in Evanston to discuss ward problems.

Time to review.

Silverstein holds open office hours once per week for two hours. Should that time be cancelled due to holidays, it is not rescheduled. But you can call her office, maybe speak with her or arrange an appointment. Or wait til next week.

Silverstein rarely holds community meetings, preferring to communicate via her weekly Newsletter, where more space is devoted to pictures of herself than to discussions of Ward or City business.

Silverstein attended only 31% of 2016 budget committee hearings, according to a report from Illinois Policy. Continue reading, and you’ll learn that between May 2015 and May 2017, the City Council spent more time and effort on honorary resolutions (8%) than on “substantive” legislation (1.5%)–you know, matters of public policy.

Silverstein was the only alderman who failed to attend the only North Side hearing on police reform. Instead, she scheduled a property tax seminar with Larry Suffredin for that night. She could have rescheduled the seminar, or let Suffredin handle it on his own, but chose, as always, the less important task on which to spend her time.

Silverstein says in her most recent campaign piece that she “directed” sewer cleaning, pothole patching, tree trimming, and rat extermination in our Ward. We have entire City departments devoted to those tasks under the management of well-paid department heads. But Silverstein is one of only 50 people who can initiate or vote on City legislation.

A 56% attendance rate at committee and Council meetings is not acceptable. Since Silverstein’s too lazy to do the job to which she was elected, maybe we should allow her to retire. Now.






The Alderman Speaks

We all know  that Ald. Debra Silverstein does not like to speak to her constituents. Curious about what she has to say to her fellow Council members about the issues facing the City, I decided to look at the record.

All quotes below are taken directly from the “Journal of the Proceedings of the Chicago City Council.”

























Debra Silverstein is paid $120,000 per year, a total of nearly one million dollars during her two terms as alderman. One million dollars to represent the 50th Ward.

Without saying a word.

Aldermen Avoid Real Reform

The City Council voted yesterday to limit the ability of the Legislative Inspector General to fully investigate the aldermen and their staffs. Enough alderman decided to keep the IG and the taxpayers out of things like where the menu money really goes and how worker’s compensation issues are determined.  The keep-it-like-it-is ordinance passed by a slim margin (25-23), but it was enough to clearly signal that, once again, Chicago ain’t ready for reform.

Ald. Silverstein voted against the weakened ordinance. Don’t think she’s interested in reform. By the time the roll call got around to her, it was clear that the anti-reform block had carried the day. It was a win-win for her: She could look for a moment like a good-government type, and then safely return to the 50th Ward, where she and her husband wield absolute political control.

It’s worth noting that the real alderman–the one we’ve watched in (in)action for the past five years–pulled a fast one earlier this week.  On Monday a City Council zoning committee was asked to approve a zoning change for a site on which a businessman hoped to build an MMD; the alderman asked that the site be zoned residential. She referred this matter to the Council committee last October 14, while an appeal was pending before the City’s Zoning Board, an appeal that was not finally denied until December 18.

Reform is a sometime thing, I guess.

We’ll see how she spins this vote–if she discusses it at all–in her weekly newsletter. Lately she’s had a tendency to claim co-sponsorship of reform measures; the truth is she’s always late to the table (so many people to check with before she acts, and Ira’s out of town a lot blocking reform in Springfield) and is therefore just another name on the list rather than the mover and shaker her prose suggests.

Two aldermen weren’t present for the vote: Roberto Maldonado (26) and Carrie Austin (34). Austin’s absence is interesting because she, along with Ald. Ed Burke (14) fought the hardest to block the IG from auditing City programs. I wonder if one of them would have popped up had the vote been tied.

Joe Ferguson, the Legislative Inspector General, sent this letter to taxpayers. It’s well worth reading–and remembering when 2019 rolls around.