Sun-Times columnist Dan Mihalopoulos wrote a story in the Tuesday, May 17th edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, in which 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly blamed Mayor Emanuel’s young aides for being insensitive to the concerns of homeowners who are seeing their neighborhoods transformed by the emergence of Air BnB vacation renters.
In the article Reilly stated:
“Because they’re closer to the millennial age group, this tech stuff is gee-whiz to them,” Reilly said last week of the Emanuel aides. “If it’s an app-based product, the general inclination by young people is to embrace it and want it to expand and do well.”
While I do agree with some aspects of Reilly’s analysis, he is missing some key dynamics to the story.
First, hardly anyone that I have met in business or government actually says they like Reilly. He has been accused of being a virulent racist behind the scenes by many of his colleagues, who choose to remain off the record. Reilly is also known to hold court at Chicago’s Boss Bar where constituents and developers alike allege that they have been victims of his drunken tirades,rants, and “private meetings” in the basement.
Additionally, Reilly has regularly proven disloyal to the Mayor’s administration, so much so that top mayoral advisors recommended removing his title of Vice Mayor; but, with Emanuel’s approval ratings in the tank and the title mostly symbolic, no other Alderman was enthusiastic about the idea, so Reilly remained. Combine that with the fact that Reilly fancies himself a candidate for higher office (potentially Mayor or Secretary of State) his detractors figure, “Why give him any victories or a platform?”
Secondly, he ignores that Air BnB is now represented by former Alderman Will Burns, who was one of Mayor Emanuel’s staunchest allies, on almost every issue. Burns, who possibly saw the Emanuel future writing on the wall cashed in his political chips to represent Air BnB, one of the fastest growing companies in the world. In all actuality, it is the path that most in the Emanuel world hope to follow: do your time in government service, make the necessary connections, leave government and live a productive life off of the relationships you built. To tank Burns would set a negative precedent for a young staff that is trying to convince aldermen on the benefits of remaining loyal to Emanuel.
Piggybacking off of that is the third point Reilly missed in his oversimplified analysis: with Rahm’s future as Mayor questionable at best, many of his staffers are looking at their future job prospects. What that means is they are looking to be as helpful as possible to potential future employers. Look for all pro-business legislation to continue to have a friendly ear at City Hall, while Reilly’s suggestions continue to fall on deaf ears.
If Reilly is not successful, I am sure he would like blame the failure by deflecting to the Mayor and his young staff, but perhaps instead he should be looking in the mirror and reflecting on himself.
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