Back when I lived in the Chicagoland area, the traditional Democratic "machine" opposed the reformist mayor Harold Washington. The machine, built by Hizzoner Da Honrable Richard J. Daley, Mare a da Great City Chicago and All Its Great People, was sort of leaderless in this time frame, as Daley's son Richard M. Daley had yet to make his move for the mayor's office. Cook County Democratic Party Chairman and Alderman Edward Vrdolyak led the opposition to Washington, assisted by Alderman Edward Burke. Vrdolyak was sometimes known as "Fast Eddie," with the less flamboyant and significantly younger Burke referred to as "Increasingly Fast Eddie" or "Slow Eddie."
Well, Washington died in office. Vrdolyak was indicted on federal corruption charges but before that, committed the unpardonable sin (in the machine's eyes, anyway) of becoming a Republican. Daley the younger retired. But Eddie Burke is still kicking, chair of the city Committee on Finance and several other carefully selected committees.
And now, in a move that would surely bring an approving tear to Daley the elder's eye, Burke's committee is holding hearings on whether or not the city of Chicago should use its fairly broad powers of property condemnation to seize "underwater" homes and force refinancing. "Underwater" means that the property value of the home has fallen so much that it is now worth less than the amount still owed on the mortgage. If the city seized the property, then it could force the mortgages to be refinanced at terms that homeowners could afford. Burke says that it would also help lessen the frequent abandonment of such properties, which leaves them vacant and destabilizes neighborhoods.
But that ain't all, baby -- as this item on New Geography notes, Alderman Burke has a huge role in setting Chicago's tax code, and he slates the judges who would hear the cases if banks tried to appeal the seizures. His day job is with a property tax appeals firm. His wife is a judge on the Illinois Supreme Court. His brother is the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois General Assembly.
Chicago -- where what's mine is mine and what's yours can stay yours as long as I get my cut of it.