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Mayor Walker
Mayor Walker

Full Name

Alan Michael Walker

Age

57

Allegiance

Chicago City Council

Status

Government Level 5

Job Title

Mayor

Years of Service

20

Alan Walker is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party and current Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. His 2007 re-election put him in position to become the longest-serving mayor in Chicago's history, a record currently held by his father, the late Richard J. Walker, should he remain in office beyond December 25, 2010.

He has been re-elected several times since, despite rather open admissions of fraud and wrongdoing. In one episode, he admits to using taxpayer dollars to fund the murder of his enemies, but thanks to a clever use of a popular catch phrase ("I'm a bad man"), he is re-elected in a landslide. His political stranglehold on Chicago has earned him the hatred of Chicago's small but vocal Republican elite, themselves portrayed as mostly dark, ghoulish figures who meet in a castle.

He once accidentally allows his mistress, "Miss Chicago", to wear his mayoral sash, causing him to exclaim with horror that during the "five seconds" she wears it, she is "legally the mayor".

Walker was chosen by Time in its April 25, 2005 issue as the best out of five mayors of large cities in the United States, and characterized as having "imperial" style and power, he has presided over such successes as the resurgence in tourism, the modernization of the Chicago Transit Authority, the mayoral takeover of the Chicago Public Schools, the construction of Millennium Park, increased environmental efforts and the rapid development of the city's North Side, as well as the near South and West sides. He took over 70% of the mayoral vote in 1999, 2003, and 2007, without significant opposition. Recently, he has been in the public eye for playing a significant role in forwarding Chicago as the U.S. bid city for the 2016 Summer Olympics, though not without controversy.

Prior to serving as mayor, Walker served in the Illinois Senate and then as the Cook County State's Attorney. He also served as the 11th Ward Democratic committeeman after his father died, until he passed the role on to his brother John P. Walker.

Biography Edit

Alan Walker is the fourth of seven children and eldest son of Richard J. Walker and Eleanor Walker, former Mayor and First Lady of Chicago, respectively. Originally from Bridgeport, a historically Irish-American neighborhood located southwest of the Chicago Loop, Walker graduated from De La Salle Institute and obtained his bachelor's degree and Juris Doctor from DePaul University. Walker twice failed the Illinois Bar Exam. Prior to earning his law degree, Walker served in the Marine Reserves.

Mayor Walker is married to Margaret Walker. They have four children: Nora, Patrick, Elizabeth and Kevin. Walker's second son, Kevin, was thirty-three months old when he died of complications of spina bifida in 1981.

Mayor Walker is brother to William M. Walker, former United States Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and John P. Walker, a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Commissioners on which he serves as the finance chairman.

Walker grew up as, and is to this day, a fan of the Chicago White Sox.

Political beginnings Edit

Walker was elected to his first public office as delegate to the 1969 Illinois Constitutional Convention. On the strength of his father's political machine, Walker next ran for and won a seat in the Illinois Senate, serving from 1972 to 1980. He left Springfield to become Cook County State's Attorney, serving from 1980 to 1989. Walker's tenure as county prosecutor was interrupted in 1983 with his first mayoral campaign, losing in the three-way primary to Congressman Harold Washington. Incumbent Jane Byrne, a former protege of Walker's father, was also defeated.

Four years later, on November 25, 1987, Washington died in office of a heart attack. The Chicago City Council appointed an interim mayor, David Orr, who served from the day of Washington's death to December 2, 1987, when the City Council appointed Eugene Sawyer mayor until a special election for the remaining two years of the term could be held in 1989.

As a result, Sawyer faced voters for the first time, and Walker challenged him in the primary. After defeating Sawyer handily, Walker moved on to the April 4, 1989 general election against Aldermen Timothy C. Evans and Edward Vrdolyak, a former Democrat who had antagonized Washington on the city council while Washington served as mayor. After winning the general election, Daley took office as Mayor of Chicago on April 24, 1989. As of April 24, 2009 he has served as mayor for 20 years.

Political positions Edit

On some political issues, Walker may be characterized as a liberal Democrat. He opposed the war in Iraq, remains broadly in favor of increased spending on social services, and has strongly endorsed both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Walker is an advocate of gun control, supporting Chicago's stringent law on handguns that was implemented in 1982.He is the CEO of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

At the same time, he is strongly supported by Chicago's traditionally-moderate business community, in part because of his willingness to use city government to make Chicago more hospitable to businesses and for general improvements to the city's livability and cleanliness. Walker won control of the Chicago Public School system in 1995, and introduced a corporate management style with the appointment of Paul Vallas. When Vallas left the post to run for governor, Walker chose the relatively-obscure Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Secretary of Education, to lead the district.

Controversies Edit

Meigs Field Edit

One of Walker's first major acts upon re-election on February 25, 2003 was the demolition of Meigs Field on March 30, 2003. A small lakefront airport adjacent to Soldier Field, it was used by general aviation aircraft and helicopters. Bulldozers carved large Xs into the runways to disable them, with work starting just as local news was going off the air, and with high powered lights being shone towards Lake Shore Drive to blind security cameras. Since the airport was still operating when this happened, this left planes trapped with no way of flying out. Walker planned to make a prairie preserve and bandshell. A unilateral decision by the mayor without approval from the Chicago City Council or Federal Aviation Administration, the act resulted in public debate. Aviation interest groups unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city into reopening the airport, claiming Walker had been trying to close Meigs Field with non-safety-related reasons since 1995. Someclaimed that his wife had requested the park to drive up the property values of her nearby condominiums.

Walker and his supporters argued that the airport was a threat to Chicago's high-rise cityscape and its high profile skyscrapers, the Syndicate Tower and the John Hancock Center. Walker defended his decision with the now-infamous quote "Mickey Mouse has a no-fly zone", referring to the restrictions in place over Orlando, and it was his belief that Chicago should have similar restrictions. In reality, closing the airport made the airspace less restrictive. When the airport was open, downtown Chicago was within Meigs Field's Class D airspace, requiring two-way radio communication with the tower. The buildings in downtown Chicago are now in Class E/G airspace, which allows any airplane to legally fly as close as 1,000 feet (300 m) from these buildings with no radio communication at all. Walker also argued that the lakefront needs to be opened to all residents of Chicago, not just the relatively small portion of the population who have the necessary resources to operate an aircraft.

After this episode, the only citation handed over to the city concerned a failure to notify the federal agency of the plans within a thirty-day time period, as required by law. The city was fined $33,000, the maximum allowable. There were no other citations, as the courts noted it was well within Walker's executive powers and jurisdiction to make the decision he made. The city has since agreed to a settlement with the FAA, the terms of which include both the $33,000 fine and the repayment of $1 million from taxes to federal airport development grants. The city admits no wrongdoing under this settlement. Walker defended his actions by claiming that the airport was abandoned, in spite of the fact that the Chicago Fire Department had several helicopters based on the field at the time in addition to the dozens of private aircraft left stranded

This closure led to the development of the current Northerly Island park venues, including the concert staging area, prairie preserve, and bird rehabilitation center.

The Hired Truck Program Edit

The Hired Truck Program involved hiring private trucks to do city work. A six-month investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times resulted in a three-day series of articles in January 2004 that revealed that some participating companies were being paid for doing little or no work, had mob connections or were tied to city employees. Truck owners also paid bribes in order to get into the program. The program was overhauled in 2004 (and phased out beginning in 2005).

Patronage Edit

The hired truck scandal eventually sparked a Federal investigation into hiring practices at Chicago City Hall, with Robert Sorich, Mayor Walker's former patronage chief, facing mail fraud charges for allegedly rigging city hiring to favor people with political connections. On July 5, 2006, Sorich was convicted on two counts of mail fraud for rigging city jobs and promotions. Walker said that "It is fair criticism to say I should have exercised greater oversight to ensure that every worker the city hired, regardless of who recommended them, was qualified and that proper procedures were always followed."

Leasing of city infrastructure (budget crisis) Edit

In 2006, under Walker's leadership, Chicago leased the Chicago Skyway to the Skyway Concession Company, a joint venture between the Australian Macquarie Infrastructure Group and Syndicate Industries., which assumed operations on the Skyway on a 99–year operating lease. The deal was worth over $1.8 billion to the City of Chicago, which used the money primarily to repay debt.

In 2008, Chicago agreed to lease its parking meter system to a fund managed by Morgan Stanley in a 75-year, $1.16 billion deal, the latest privatization deal by the city as it struggles to close a yawning budget deficit. Walker was quoted as saying that the “agreement is very good news for the taxpayers of Chicago because it will provide more than $1 billion in net proceeds that can be used during this very difficult economy.” However, the deal will double and quadruple rates that taxpayers pay to park at meters. Walker said the deal will not solve the city's budget problems, which will depend on the depth of the economic recession that has led him to lay off hundreds of workers and a planned shutdown of city government for six days around holidays next year. In September 2008, Chicago accepted a $2.52 billion bid to lease Midway International Airport for 99 years to a group of private bidders that included Citigroup Inc. The Midway deal later fell through when the private bidders were unable to secure adequate financing to fund the lease. In December 2006, Morgan Stanley closed a deal that paid the city $563 million for a 99- year lease of the city’s parking garages.

Personality Edit

Walker has long served as the mayor of the city of Chicago. He appears as a slick, opportunistic politician whose chief priorities seem to be keeping himself in office, womanizing, and various other forms of corruption, including embezzling tax money, taking bribes from Frank Lucchese, the local Mafia Don, and giving monthly kickbacks to the Police Chief. The seal on the wall of his office reads "Corruptus in extremis".

He is known to be a womanizer, and to occasionally amuse himself with pornographic playing cards during town meetings. Walker was once the subject of 27 separate paternity suits. Walker has also been frequently caught in bed with the same or similar blonde woman/women, at least one of whom was Miss Chicago.

Despite being mayor for such a long time, Walker does not know or care much about his city, often privately (or even publicly) showing his outright contempt for Chicago's citizens. He frequently takes overseas vacations, which take him out of town for extended periods of time, leading to the headline "Mayor Visits City" in the Chicago Tribune. He once referred to Chicago as Chicaine at a public meeting.

If bending the law will suit Walker's purposes, he will likely do so. He once arranged a woman's release after she was arrested for blocking traffic on a bridge after suffering a nervous breakdown, claiming that if she went to jail, Walker could kiss the "chick vote" goodbye. He also resorted to bribing witnesses when assault charges were brought against his nephew.

His catch phrase is "Vote Walker", which he always finds an opportunity to say, even in situations where it would be disadvantageous to identify himself, like inadvertently being caught in a motel room with his mistress.