Tuesday, March 3, 2009

With Doug Block in chambers, Democratic aldermen take shots at Morrissey

Another interesting pair I noticed at this week's city council meeting was Democratic mayoral candidate Doug Block and firefighter union president E.J. Dilonardo glowering together in the gallery.

Doug was the victor in the Democratic mayoral primary last week, at which time he removed himself from duties as a police union negotiator. But make no mistake - he's still representing the union's interests.

Despite the hundreds of members in the fire and police unions, Mayor Morrissey raised an interesting point when he noted many of the city's fire and police personnel live outside the city limits. He seemed to be saying: "If you don't like me, tough shit. You can't even vote me out."

While that may be true to an extent, in the end, citizens want to know they're protected. Public safety will be the No. 1 issue in the mayoral election. The unions will make sure of it, and they know how to get their own propaganda out, just like the Morrissey administration.

Late last year, Joe Bruscato's victory over Chuck Prorok in the state's attorney's race came as a bit of a surprise to some, but not me. I think the police union's endorsement of Bruscato made the difference in that contest.

When it was announced, Prorok responded by prattling on about how it wasn't appropriate for Bruscato to accept the endorsement, but he would have taken it in a second if the shoe was on the other foot. In the end, folks decided to shake the last Logli-remnants from the office.

Since the election, Prorok also applied for a judgeship, but was beaten out again.

Interestingly, prior to running for state's attorney, Bruscato worked labor negotiations on behalf of the city. I saw the endorsement coming the very day Joe announced his candidacy, because the police union's Aurelio Delarosa was pictured standing beside Bruscato in The Rock River Times.

If Block is elected, my guess is his first order of business would be to show Police Chief Chet Epperson the door. Beyond that, it's not clear yet what his vision is for the rest of Rockford.

Larry Morrissey's war chest dwarfs Block's campaign funds, but the type of campaign he'll run won't run on money - It'll run on fear.

Anyone who's followed city government in recent months has seen Dilonardo appeal directly to Mayor Morrissey to not reduce minimum staffing levels on fire trucks as a cost-saving measure. We've already begun to hear the grim, worst-case scenarios of falling skies resulting from the police and fire departments having to share in the sacrifices the rest of us are making in this economy.

That being said, Rod Lashock has had some interesting things to say at council meetings recently. Lashock is a city employee whose wife is running for alderman. He's been trying to convince aldermen to ask Mayor Morrissey what happened to the general fund balance accumulated in previous years - tens of millions of dollars that could come in handy right now. From what I can tell, aldermen haven't been listening.

Dilonardo also began to pick at that rainy-day-fund-scab in recent weeks, and I think they need to keep pushing the issue. Where is the money?

Mayor Morrissey had a particularly difficult night March 2. Now that a Democratic mayoral candidate has been decided, Democrats wasted no time before starting to throw stones at Morrissey.

Carl Wasco bitched about how city staff told him he didn't know what he was talking about, but I think they'd probably be right. In any case, Wasco's tirade about the incident was directed at the administration.

Ann Thompson-Kelly drilled the mayor a new one, too, because she feels he's not making much of an effort to seal a deal that would bring a huge development to the west side. Hours earlier, Block issued a press release arguing the same point, so it's clear Thompson-Kelly was just spinning things for the Democratic mayoral hopeful.

Linda McNeely? Of course, she levied some criticisms, too, but she doesn't limit that to election seasons, so I'll let her slide. It's truly been a treat to see everyone on the council roll their eyes when Linda takes the floor, because she's consistently a thorn in Morrissey's side.

By the way, did anyone snap a shot of Epperson and Delarosa shaking hands during the Distinguished Service Medal presentation? Priceless. That awkward exchange even had me cringing.

Mark Bonne was also seen at the meeting Monday night. He's been whoring his face anywhere TV cameras go, so that came as little surprise. More on his his story another time.

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