Thursday, February 22, 2007

2 aldermen back Walls over Daley
Troutman, Brookins also snub Brown
February 22, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter Two South Side aldermen -- one of them charged with accepting bribes -- have endorsed mayoral challenger Bill Walls' long-shot campaign over Mayor Daley.
Arenda Troutman (20th) and Howard Brookins (21st) are believed to be the only aldermen taking sides against Daley, the favorite in Tuesday's election. The fact that Troutman and Brookins chose Walls over Dorothy Brown makes the endorsement even more surprising.
"I don't care who they support. This is America. People can support anyone they want. Then you really believe they should be mayor and they should be managing this government. If they really believe that -- that he should manage city government -- that's their personal belief," Daley said.
Walls countered, "It means we have the support of their proven organizations and that, on Election Day, we'll have coverage in all the precincts in their wards as well as my name on their palm cards."
Troutman was charged last month with taking bribes -- $5,000 in cash, with the promise of $10,000 more, along with free residential and commercial space -- to grease development of a strip mall that wasn't even in her ward.
But Walls said he welcomes her endorsement and believes, like Troutman does, that the alderman will be exonerated.
"The property was not even in her ward," he said. "She had no control over that property. There are a lot of things that don't stack up" about the investigation.
Troutman could not be reached for comment, but a top aide confirmed that she has endorsed Walls.
'Meet on the battlefield'Brookins is a close ally of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who flirted with the idea of challenging Daley before taking a pass on the mayor's race. Brookins said he's backing Walls because of what he called a lack of communication with Daley.
"I have been trying to meet with him for 3½ years -- ever since the first failed Wal-Mart vote [for a store in his ward]. I have been unable to meet with him," Brookins said. "I don't know how you can work with people -- especially in the African-American community, where I would appear to be selling the community out somehow -- when you don't have an open dialogue with the person you would be supporting."
Asked why he has refused to meet with Brookins, Daley said, "I see him so much that it's exhausting. . . . Why doesn't he just take care of his own self. He's supporting Walls, let him support Walls."
Brookins said he tried to approach Daley behind the City Council chambers on the day the mayor's 2007 budget was passed. Instead of a handshake, Brookins said he got the verbal equivalent of a punch in the nose. Brookins said Daley accused him of backing aldermanic challengers in neighboring wards.
"I was shocked. [Daley] said, 'You don't want to talk to me. Who do you think you are? Do you think you're bigger than [Ald.] Ike Carothers? You're running somebody in the 9th and 18th [wards]. Why don't you just run for mayor, and we can meet on the battlefield,' " Brookins said.
Brookins said the mayor's closed-door policy is not his only beef. There's also the shoddy condition of inner-city parks and Daley's failure to yield to aldermanic demands to hire 100 additional police officers to enforce the city's traffic laws.
"The fixes are not coming fast enough for my community. We're getting our brains beat in over police protection. The public is not buying the line that crime is down 14 percent," said Brookins, who noted that the Rev. Paul Jakes got 41 percent of the 21st Ward vote against Daley four years ago.

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