Aldermen's irritation over World Series ticket prices elicits scorn
Chicago city aldermen's recent anxiety over not getting an expected perk in the form of World Series tickets at face value is indicative of politics in that city, the co-founders of a Chicago-based public policy think tank said during a recent radio conversation.
"It just goes to show where their mindset is, not just on this issue, but on every issue," Pat Hughes, a founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project, said during a radio show appearance with co-founder and show host Dan Proft before the general election. "They are so insulated, Dan, from the reality that every other person faces. These are people making a hundred-and-some thousand dollars a year. So they're in that group of people, through their government largesse, that could actually, maybe, afford a $1,000 World Series ticket, and they cry 'poor' and complain that their office doesn't bestow it upon them."
Hughes and Proft called out Chicago city aldermen who, during an Oct. 26 meeting, demanded that the city's inspector general, Joseph Ferguson, clarify his opposition on them getting the World Series tickets. Ferguson cited a Board of Ethics ruling that said aldermen cannot accept tickets offered by the Cubs to World Series games at Wrigley Field unless the aldermen are there to perform a ceremonial duty at the game. Accepting the tickets could violate a ban on elected officials accepting any gifts worth more than $50.
"These 50 trained seals, the Chicago aldermen, and those that are crying and so entitled, demanding, outraged that their face-value tickets that they enjoyed in the playoffs were not conferred to them in the World Series as well because of an ethics opinion from an inspector general at city hall that said, 'No, actually, if you just pay face value for a ticket that's worth 50 times face value, that is an illicit gift and, as a city council member, you're going to vote on matters regarding Wrigley Field and construction projects and zoning issues and all kinds of things -- and, so, that is an improper gift,'" Proft said. "The response from some of these aldermen, who are so insulated from accountability that they can bemoan not getting a $10,000 ticket for $150, is just incredible to me."
The two made their comments during the Nov. 6 edition of Illinois Rising, which is hosted by Proft.
Proft took special aim at Alderman Milly Santiago (31st Ward), a former journalist who said during the meeting in October that the Cubs offering tickets to the aldermen for the earlier playoff games weren't all that great and that she cannot afford what scalpers demand for the tickets.
"First of all, those tickets were not front-row tickets," Santiago said. "They were all the way in the upper deck, and if I went like this, I would touch the ceiling. That's how bad those tickets were. So it's kind of embarrassing on my part. I don't know how the rest of my colleagues feel. I think this should be a matter of individual and personal choice because those who are not Cubs fans should just say 'No, I'm not interested.' But those of us who would like to get a chance to go to one of those games and be part of history, we should have that choice."
At the same meeting, Santiago said, "I'm a poor alderman. I cannot even afford to buy a $1,000 ticket. I cannot afford that."
Santiago's comments show how pernicious politics is in Chicago, Proft said.
"Hey Milly, welcome to the party," Proft said. "How many of your constituents can afford a $1000 ticket? But they're not being conferred a face-value ticket because they hold a sinecure like a feudal lord. I mean, it's just mind-bending to listen to what they say and for their constituents, apparently, to just shrug their shoulders."
The comments by Santiago and other aldermen about the World Series tickets reveal the elected officials' mindset on that issue and every other issue before that body, Hughes said.
The greater question is how the aldermen became aldermen, Hughes said.
"Who elects these people?" Hughes said. "This is so indicative of who they are as people; this is indicative of where their mindset is, everything for me, through my office. Do I honestly think their view of the world or their job is to help their constituents, to help these people in these places where they represent people who have tremendous poverty, who have failing schools? You think that's their first order of priority? It isn't, and this shows that. And I'm sure this isn't the only time they show it. Why do their constituents continue to put them in office? Is it lack of engagement? Is it that every vote is bought? What's the deal?"
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