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Nepotism in government is no joke

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

Laughter, as the Reader's Digest saying goes, is often the best medicine. This is something Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman understood when she brought her 12-year-old son Conor to the swearing in of the Cook County Board on Monday.

Gorman, a Republican, told her fellow commissioners that her son had asked if "the Democrats can give their seats to their kids, why can't you?" Conor was alluding to the fact that the County Board president's seat was passed from Democrat John Stroger to his son, Todd, while interim County Board President Bobbie Steele is bequeathing her seat to her son.

Gorman talked about her son's observations and then passed the microphone to him. "I look forward to working with all of you, my fellow colleagues," Conor told the commissioners. "Congratulations, Mr. President, and here's to our parents." The room was seized by laughter. Gorman then promised to keep her seat warm for Conor when he comes of age.

The joke underlined the nepotism that has gripped local politics and highlighted the might of the Democratic Party Machine, which allows the practices to continue, unchecked on all levels of government -- we're thinking here of Rep. Dan Lipinski who was anointed by his dad Bill to take his seat in Washington. Gorman was right to make fun of it. But deep down it really isn't a laughing matter.


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