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 »  Home  »  Miscellaneous  »  (E) Michael Bilandic, Daley Successor in Chicago, Dies at 78
(E) Michael Bilandic, Daley Successor in Chicago, Dies at 78
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/20/2002 | Miscellaneous | Unrated
(E) Michael Bilandic, Daley Successor in Chicago, Dies at 78
From the NY Times. John KraljicJanuary 17, 2002Michael Bilandic, Daley Successor in Chicago, Dies at 78By DOUGLAS MARTINichael A. Bilandic, who became mayor of Chicago after the death ofRichard J. Daley, his mentor, only to see the Daley political machinesputter to a stop under his leadership, died on Tuesday in Chicago. Hewas 78.The cause was a heart rupture, said Dr. Dan Fintel of NorthwesternMemorial Hospital. Mr. Bilandic was admitted after a heart attack onFriday and was scheduled for triple bypass surgery yesterday, but hedied after the rupture.When Mayor Daley died in his sixth term in 1976, his machine selectedMr. Bilandic as a temporary successor, and the new mayor immediatelypromised not to run in the election six months later to fill theremaining two years of Mr. Daley's term.His deference reflected the careful personality of the corporate lawyerhe had been for 28 years. Mike Royko, a columnist for The ChicagoSun-Times, labeled him Mayor Bland.But Mayor Bilandic quickly found himself in the rough and tumble ofChicago politics. Within months of taking office, he negotiated laboragreements involving gravediggers, butchers and members of the ChicagoLyric Opera orchestra. He brought together warring factions to end a15-year impasse on building a crosstown expressway, releasing $1.5billion in federal money.His romance with Heather Morgan, the director of the Chicago Council onFine Arts, added a dash of warmth to his image. They married shortlyafter he was elected mayor. He is survived by his wife and their son,Michael.He changed his mind about not running, explaining that he was respondingto a groundswell of support. He emphasized his closeness to Mr. Daley,saying the mayor had given him the kind of education "you cannot get atOxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Stanford." He went so far as to imitateMr. Daley's speech patterns, with a distinctive grammar and syntax and aseeming preference for commas over periods in his orations.The result was victory in the Democratic primary in a city where thatwas tantamount to victory in the general election. Several months later,he delightedly quoted the remark of a child at an elementary school inthe Bridgeport neighborhood, where Mr. Bilandic, like the four mayorsbefore him, lived.Someone had asked the child if he knew who the visiting Mayor Bilandicwas."Yes, that's the new Mayor Daley," the boy chirped.But Mr. Bilandic demonstrated that he lacked the iron control of Mr.Daley. First, Jane M. Byrne, his commissioner of consumer sales, accusedhim of being in cahoots with the city's taxi companies to raise theirfares. Though he fired her, their highly visible fight - both passed liedetector tests - differed markedly from the discipline of the Daley CityHall.Second, it snowed, more than seven feet, the most ever recorded in aseason Chicago. The city's snow removal was so terrible that peopleguessed Mayor Daley must have taken the snowplows with him; a formerdeputy mayor was found to have received a $90,000 consultant's contractfor snow removal.A joke circulated. First man to second: "If Mayor Daley was alive, allthis wouldn't have happened."Second to first: "If Mayor Bilandic was alive, it wouldn't have,either."The result was that in March 1979, Ms. Byrne, at first viewed as aquixotic candidate for mayor, beat Mr. Bilandic, ending 48 years ofmachine domination of city politics.Michael Anthony Bilandic, the son of Croatian immigrants, was born onFeb. 13, 1923, in Bridgeport, on Chicago's southwest side. It is calledBack of the Yards because of its proximity to the stockyards that wereonce the economic backbone of the area.Like Mayor Daley, he attended De La Salle High School, graduated from DePaul University Law School and got into politics by hanging around the11th Ward Democratic Headquarters.He served for four years in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific andthen earned his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame University. Hebegan as a $25-a-week law clerk at the Chicago firm of Anixter, Delaney,Bilandic & Piggott, and worked his way to senior partner.He resumed his political activity, canvassing the 11th Ward for Mr.Daley, a neighbor, during his first race for mayor in 1955. For the nextdecade he was an active, if inconspicuous, figure in ward politics.At Mayor Daley's invitation, he ran for City Council in 1969, and thenext year was named to its powerful finance committee. In 1974, afterthe indictment of the committee's chairman on fraud charges, he wasnamed chairman.In 1972, Mr. Bilandic stood in for Mayor Daley at the DemocraticNational Convention in denouncing the seating of anti-Daley delegatesled by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.After his defeat, Mr. Bilandic returned to private practice, thenstarted a new career as judge. He was elected to the First DistrictAppellate Court in 1984 and, six years later, to the Illinois SupremeCourt, the highest in the state. He was chief justice for the last threeyears of his 10-year term.Last September, he was chosen to break the tie on a committee redrawingCongressional and state legislative districts. His name was drawn from areplica of a stovepipe hat owned by Abraham Lincoln. The stateConstitution calls for such a random selection when the eight- memberbody, split evenly between parties, cannot agree.----------------------------------------MICHAEL BILANDIC: 1923-2002A mayor who had hard act to followBy Gary Washburn, Tribune staff reporter. Tribune reporters Joseph Sjostrom,Christi Parsons, Ronald Kotulak and David Mendell contributed to this reportPublished January 17, 2002Purple and black bunting was draped over the entrance to City Hall onWednesday as Chicago mourned Michael A. Bilandic, the quiet and unassumingson of immigrants who rose to become a leader of the City Council, mayor ofChicago and, later, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.Bilandic, 78, died unexpectedly late Tuesday at Northwestern MemorialHospital on the eve of scheduled coronary bypass surgery. He had beenadmitted to the hospital two days earlier after suffering what doctorsdescribed as a mild heart attack.A former alderman who was the eyes and ears in the City Council for hismentor, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, Bilandic was picked by councilcolleagues to replace Daley when he died in late 1976. But he will be bestremembered for the way his political career unraveled under the weight ofrecord snowfalls in the winter of 1978-79, which immobilized the city andled to the historic election of Chicago's first female mayor, Jane Byrne.But his admirers, of whom there were many in the halls of government, saythe snow debacle unfairly clouded the reputation of a man who was adedicated and hard-working official.Bilandic was a "very good public servant and very committed," said MayorRichard M. Daley, whose father, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, had beenBilandic's political sponsor. "He made a strong contribution to the city.""He had a full and rich and diverse career," said Ald. Edward Burke (14th),a longtime friend. "He served in all branches of government--legislative,executive and judicial--and will be remembered as a very capable, hardworking and loyal public official."In a written statement, Bilandic's wife, Heather, described her husband as"a devoted family man, [who] also loved Chicago and its people, was proud ofhis Croatian heritage and grateful for the opportunities which this countryprovided to his family. He felt deeply honored to have been able to serve asa member of the legal profession and to have participated in three branchesof government during a lifetime of service."After his defeat by Byrne, Bilandic returned to private law practice andthen answered what some believe was his true calling when he was elected ajudge, first to the Illinois Appellate Court in 1984 and later to the stateSupreme Court after winning election in 1990.Every mayor since Bilandic has taken a political lesson from his downfall,launching Herculean salting and plowing operations after even the gentlestof snowfalls. Bilandic had to learn the hard way.A total of 35 inches hit the city over a two-week period, and Bilandicshrugged off the snow, insisting that conditions were improving even asburied cars blocked streets, service on the Chicago Transit Authorityfaltered and O'Hare International Airport was tied up in knots.At one point during the crisis, he urged people to move their cars fromstreets to school parking lots, which he announced had been cleared. But themayor apparently had been given faulty information by underlings; unhappymotorists discovered that the lots remained waist-deep in snow.Democratic primary lossIndeed, the city's response to the snow was perhaps the biggest factor inBilandic's stunning defeat in the Democratic primary a few weeks later."He was a gentle and sometimes too nice a guy who got caught in asnowstorm," said Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who was in the City Council whenBilandic was mayor. "And, unfortunately, that will be part of his legacy.But the real Michael Bilandic was a decent Chicagoan who had the bestinterest of the city at heart. In all the times I was with him, I never sawhim mean-spirited, vindictive, or ever do anything but try to be a good guy.And that's what he was."Born in Bridgeport in 1923, Bilandic learned Chicago politics in the 11thWard neighborhood that had produced a host of Democratic politicians,including Richard J. Daley.He graduated in 1940 from De La Salle High School and received a bachelor'sdegree from St. Mary's College in Winona, Minn., and a law degree fromDePaul University.Bilandic served as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the Pacificduring World War II.He became active in the 11th Ward Democratic organization in 1948 whenthen-ward Committeeman Daley asked him to become involved in party work.But Bilandic's real political career began in 1969.That is when the late Matthew Danaher was in line for appointment as theclerk of Cook County Circuit Court, and Daley needed a replacement for himas 11th Ward alderman. The mayor's choice of Bilandic, whose ethnic rootswere Croatian, was a break from precedent in a ward which, for years, hadbeen represented in the council by Irish-Americans.Bilandic was reluctant to give up a law practice that was bringing him asalary estimated at $75,000 a year, but Daley prevailed. The newcomer ran,swamping the GOP candidate.As an alderman, Bilandic's long, detailed speechmaking and monotone deliverygave him a reputation as a colorless man. But he was considered effectiveand well prepared."Here is a guy who led the fight on the environment right from the start,"said Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), who served in the council with Bilandic. In1971, Bilandic pushed legislation that banned phosphates from detergents.A few years later, Bilandic helped shepherd the Lakefront ProtectionOrdinance through the council and a measure revamping zoning requirementsthat cleared the way for big multiuse developments, Stone said.With Ald. Thomas Keane (31st) on trial in federal court on charges ofconspiracy and mail fraud, Bilandic in 1974 was chosen to replace him bothas chairman of the council's powerful Finance Committee and as Daley'scouncil floor leader.When Daley died on Dec. 20, 1976, council leaders fought each other to fillthe vacuum, but it was Bilandic who received the support of the Daley familyand ultimately gained the mayoral seat.Daley, in his later years respected and beloved by a city that had known noother mayor for a generation, had failed to groom anyone as a successor. Thenew mayor was faced with the unenviable task of filling shoes that no one inChicago could have filled.Started ChicagoFestNevertheless, he sponsored new initiatives. During his 21/2 years in office,Bilandic organized the first ChicagoFest and arranged city-insured,low-interest mortgage loans for middle-income families. A runner and jogger,he also lent his support to the Chicago Marathon.Yet Bilandic's personality didn't capture the imagination or adoration ofthe voters. In an era when politicians were increasingly becomingcelebrities in their own right, Bilandic could stroll through the Loop inthe city he ran and not be stopped or even acknowledged by a singlepasserby.On another front, the mayor's personal life blossomed.When he took office, Bilandic was a bachelor who lived with his elderlymother. It was during his time in office, then in his 50s, that he marriedHeather Morgan, the daughter of a prominent Chicago businessman. Thecouple's only child, Michael Morgan Bilandic, was born during his mayoralty.After taking over at City Hall, Bilandic made numerous changes in the citycommand structure.In what turned out to be a major tactical error, he ousted Byrne as thecity's consumer sales commissioner and forced her to give up her spot asco-chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization's CentralCommittee.The response was furious.Byrne's attacks on Bilandic and his administration were so strong during the1979 primary that the mayor at times appeared on the brink of tears as hecompared her offensives, combined with media criticism, to the crucifixionof Christ, the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the plight of blacks duringslavery in America.After losing the primary, Bilandic returned to private law practice.Although he maintained his Bridgeport home, he and his family spent most oftheir time in the Gold Coast apartment he also owned.Five years after his departure from City Hall, and without party backing,Bilandic won election to the Illinois Appellate Court's 1st District, whichcovers Cook County. At the age of 67, he ran for a 10-year term on the stateSupreme Court, this time slated by the Democratic Party, and won again. Hesubsequently was elected by colleagues on the court to a term as chiefjustice.Declined campaign donationsBilandic spent $32,000 of his own money on the Supreme Court electioncampaign and refused to accept campaign contributions. "`This is my lasthurrah," he explained. "I don't want to go there encumbered in any manner."As a jurist who had served in the other branches of government, Bilandic wasespecially attentive to the separation of powers and respectful of executiveand legislative prerogative."He always commented, `Let them do the work they do, and we'll do the workwe do,'" said Judge Allen Hartman, a longtime friend who shared theappellate bench with Bilandic. "He was very proper in that regard."Nevertheless, one of his most important Supreme Court opinions was highlycritical of a common practice in the Illinois General Assembly, wherelawmakers rolled unrelated measures into a single bill to drum up enoughsupport for passage.Writing for the court in Johnson v. Edgar, Bilandic struck down a sweepingnew law because it violated the Illinois Constitution's prohibition of suchbundling. The opinion formed the heart of the court's doctrine on theso-called "single-subject" rule, and it eventually led to the overturning ofseveral other measures passed by the Republican-led legislature in themid-1990s.Bilandic also wrote a revolutionary 1999 opinion in a ruling that healthmaintenance organizations can be held liable for negligence involving apatient's medical care. The decision opened the door for a flood of HMOlawsuits."When it came to things like budgetary matters or municipal law, we alwayslooked to him," said Chief Justice Moses Harrison, who served on the highcourt with Bilandic for eight years. "But you also had to admire his generalknowledge. He just knew so much."The court lowered its flags to half-staff, and Bilandic's portrait wasdraped in black bunting. The City Council, meanwhile, began a meetingWednesday with a moment of silence in the former mayor's honor.In what turned out to be his last public role, Bilandic in September cast avote that is expected to influence Illinois politics for years to come.After Democrats won a drawing to gain control of the LegislativeRedistricting Commission, Bilandic was inserted on the panel by the party tobreak a partisan deadlock and cast the tie-breaking vote on a redistrictingmap that could set the stage for Democratic control of the legislature forthe next decade.Burke said he talked to Bilandic on Tuesday afternoon to wish him well insurgery."He sounded strong," the alderman said. "He was in good spirits. He said hewas sad he would miss the board of managers meeting of the Chicago BarAssociation on Wednesday, but he hoped to be back on his feet in a couple ofdays." Bilandic died of a rare and "uniformly fatal" condition in which thewall of the heart ruptures, and not of a second heart attack, according toan autopsy report released Wednesday by Bilandic's physicians atNorthwestern Memorial.Dr. Dan Fintel, his cardiologist, said that he has seen only two otherruptures following heart attacks in 17 years of practice.The rupture occurred on the left side and front of Bilandic's heart, thearea that was damaged by a heart attack he suffered sometime in the earlymorning Saturday. That area of the heart was deprived of blood, therebyleading to the death of a small portion of heart muscle.Instead of scar tissue forming around the damaged area, which is typical,the weakened area burst from the pressure of blood inside the heart, causingthe heart to go into acute failure, Fintel said. Such conditions areimpossible to detect in advance, even using modern diagnostic equipment, hesaid.Heather Bilandic had been visiting her husband for most of Tuesday and leftone hour before the rupture occurred at 10 p.m. A heart team rushed in totry to save the former mayor. He was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m.Bilandic's doctors said that tests performed Monday showed he hadsignificant blockages in his coronary arteries but added that he appeared tobe an ideal candidate for bypass surgery.The funeral will be private. It will be followed by a memorial service thathas not yet been scheduled.distributed by CROWN - www.croatianworld.net - CroWorldNet@aol.comNotice: This e-mail and the attachments are confidential information.If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail and the attachments is strictly prohibited and violators will be held to the fullest possible extent of any applicable laws governing electronic Privacy. If you have received this e-mail in error please immediately notify the sender by telephone or e-mail, and permanently delete this e-mail and any attachments.
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