Ed Burke: Wikis


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Edward M. Burke (born December 29, 1943) is alderman of the 14th Ward[1] of the City of Chicago. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected to the Chicago City Council in 1969, and represents part of the city's Southwest Side. Burke has been called Chicago's "most powerful alderman" by the Chicago Sun-Times. [2] Burke is the longest-serving current alderman, and is the longest continually serving alderman from a single ward in Chicago history. (The record holder for Council longevity is “Foxy Ed” Cullerton, who served 41 years in four different wards, and taking an eight-year hiatus to serve in the Illinois General Assembly).[3]


Early life

Burke is a lifetime resident of Chicago. Burke's father, Joseph P. Burke, was a Cook County Sheriff's policeman[4] who worked as a court bailiff. Joseph Burke served as Committeeman from the 14 ward (a local Democratic party post), and was elected Alderman from the 14th ward on November 2, 1953.[5]


Burke attended high school at Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and then went on to DePaul University where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. Burke attended DePaul University College of Law while working as a police officer from 1965 to 1968. Burke graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1968 and was admitted to the Illinois bar in November, 1968.[6]


Burke succeeded his father first as Democratic Committeeman and then as Alderman from the 14th ward.

Joseph Burke died of cancer[4] in office May 11, 1968.[7] The 25-year-old Edward Burke took leave of his job as a City policeman to replace his father as Democratic committeeman.[8] Burke was elected Democratic Committeeman in the 14th ward in 1968 and retains that position. Burke's first election was his toughest. In a secret vote of 65 precinct captains, Burke won his father's committeeman's seat (and assurance of party slating for alderman) over a veteran precinct captain by 3 1/2 votes.[4]

A special election was called for March 11, 1969, to fill the 14th ward alderman's seat, as well as several City Council seats vacant for various reasons, mostly Aldermen elected to judgeship and other offices in November, 1968.[8] The 14th Ward Democrats slated their committeeman and their former alderman's son.[9] Burke faced 6 opponents.[6]

Military service

Burke applied for and was granted draft deferment as a full-time student while a law student at DePaul. Burke graduated and married his wife, Anne Marie, in 1968. After his marriage and the death of his father, Burke applied for and was granted a hardship deferment (3-A), claiming that he was the sole support of his wife, mother, and two younger brothers, Daniel and Joseph.

The Illinois selected service board of appeals voted 4 to 0 to reclassify Burke as 1-A ("Available for unrestricted military service") on June 11, 1969.[10] At the same time, Burke was accepted into a Chicago-based United States Army Reserve unit, the 363rd civil affairs group, as a private. The 118-man unit was based at 2025 E 71st St in Chicago's southeast side. The unit was commanded by a friend, Colonel Eugene F. Welter, an attorney with offices at 33 N LaSalle St, in downtown Chicago.[11] On August 27, 1969 an officer from the army's inspector general division in Washington came to the north suburban army post Fort Sheridan to inspect documents and interview witnesses to investigate whether Burke was improperly given special consideration and allowed to enroll ahead of thousands of men who had been waiting for as long as three years.[12]

Aldermanic career

In 1970 John J. Wisniewski, an administrative assistant with the City's Department of Urban Renewal, and a precinct captain in the 14th ward for 30 years, was fired from his City job after filing to run as an independent candidate for alderman against Burke.[13]

Burke has served as the powerful Chairman of the Committee on Finance. The Committee on Finance has a 63-member staff and $2.2-million annual budget, dwarfing the resources of other council committees. In the past, Burke eagerly wielded oversight authority, particularly during the '80s, when Harold Washington was mayor and Mr. Burke's committee routinely rewrote budget proposals, provoking crises. More recently, under Mayor Richard M. Daley, Burke routinely votes for Daley administration budgets and other Daley initiatives. Burke has failed to exercise any real oversight or scrutiny of Daley's financial maneuvers.[14] Burke is also a member of the City Council's committees on Aviation; Budget and Government Operation; Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities; and Zoning. Additionally, Burke is a member of the Chicago Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission.

Burke legislative initiatives include mandating pet-spaying, regulating fatty restaurant food and absolving Mrs. O'-Leary's cow.[14]

Joseph A. Martinez was a full-time real estate tax appeal attorney in Burke's law firm since about 1977. In 1981 Mayor Jane Byrne appointed Martinez to replace the resigning 31st Ward Alderman Chester Kuta. Martinez declined to run for re-election 1983.[4] Martinez was a target of the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into ghost payrolling in City Hall known as Operation Haunted Hall. Martinez was charged and plead guilty on the same day, January 23, 1997. In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted he was a ghost payroller on three City Council committees, "appointed as an employee" with the Finance Committee between 1985 and 1987, the Land Acquisition, Disposition and Leasing Committee between 1987 and 1988 and the Traffic Committee between 1988 and 1992. Martinez said he received $53,143 in wages and $37,352 in benefits for doing little or no work for the committees between 1985 and 1992. Martinez repaid $91,000, sending the money out of the blue to City Hall in three installments starting in April, 1995. Martinez said that in each case he was employed "in order to receive health insurance." Martinez's attorney, Richard Garmer said Burke appointed Martinez to the committees because health insurance was not provided by the law firm. Burke was chairman of the Finance Committee in 1985, when Martinez was appointed to work there. Burke lost control of the committee during Mayor Harold Washington's reorganization in 1987, when Martinez switched to the Land Acquisition payroll.[15]

Burke was, along with Alderman and Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Edward Vrdolyak a leader of the "29", a faction of white, machine alderman who controlled the City Council and were in constant conflict with the minorities and white liberals known as the "21" who supported Mayor Harold Washington from 1983-1986, a period referred to as the Council Wars. Some wags referred to Vrydolyak and Burke as "Fast Eddie" and "Slow Eddie."

Burke's top political aide Peter J. Andrews was running a trucking company in the name of his wife and another woman to get work as a woman-owned firm under the city's scandal-ridden Hired Truck Program, according to the City of Chicago's Inspector General Alexander Vroustouris. In June, 2004, Vroustouris recommending that the company, Base Trucking, be stripped of its favored status as a woman-owned business and barred from the program. Base Trucking, which made $3.4 million in Hired Truck business between 1999 and 2004, was co-owned by Ginger Andrews, whose husband Peter J. Andrews was chairman of one of Burke's campaign funds and treasurer of another at the time. City records showed Ginger Andrews was the secretary of Base Trucking. Company president Carmel McGuire was the wife of John McGuire. Their husbands Peter J. Andrews and John McGuire worked together at the Chicago Park District.[16]

Also in in June, 2004, Burke formed a partnership "51st Street Townhomes LLC" with two campaign contributors[17] to purchase and develop a little-used triangular parking lot in the 3900 block of West 51st St. in the 14th ward. Burke and his partners purchased the lot for $300,000 from a former client of Burke's law firm. The city's Zoning Department deemed their proposed project "not recommended," reporting that the development, one massive, 4,400-square-foot, three-story house along with 13 town homes, wasn't "compatible" with the Archer Heights neighborhood, where it would tower over the surrounding bungalows. Burke and his partners hired a lobbyist, Marcus Nunes, a law partner of Mayor Daley's former chief of staff, Gery Chico to re-zone the property. The City Council went ahead and approved the project on Sept. 1, 2004, with Burke recusing himself. Burke and his partners sold the home for $900,000 to his wife's Anne M. Burke Trust on Oct. 10, 2005, and sold the 13 town homes for a total of $3.7 million.[2]

In his official capacity as alderman Burke wrote a endorsement letter for a zoning change for his partner in 51st Street Townhomes LLC, Anthony DeGrazia, who needed city approval to build 200 homes on the site of a former chocolate warehouse in Burke's ward. "Please feel free to use my endorsement of this project as you see fit," Burke wrote in a July 13, 2005, letter to DeGrazia and DeGrazia's development partner, former Ald. Ted Mazola.[18]

In an April 17, 2008, letter to city officials, Burke requested that tax increment financing (TIF) funds be used to build a fence near his Southwest Side home "to prevent the students from Curie High School using this rail-road grade cross as a shortcut." Burke eventually used $45,499 of his "aldermanic menu" ($14,079 for the sidewalk, $31,420 for the wrought-iron fence). The "aldermanic menu" is a perk given to members of the Chicago City Council, taxpayer funds aldermen can spend on whatever public works projects they want in their wards. Burke had the fence put up three years after his family moved into the house on the far southwest edge of his ward in 2005. Work on the wrought-iron fence began in late 2008. It was finished in April, 2009, city records show.[19]

In his official capacity as alderman Burke wrote a letter July 18, 2007, endorsing a development project for Calvin Boender, who was indicted in May, 2009 month along with Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) on bribery charges stemming from a different project. Boender had been a client of Burke's law firm for at least four years. Boender also has made $17,000 in campaign contributions to Burke since 1997. In addition, Boender hosted a fund-raiser for Burke's wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, raising $58,250, four months before Ald. Burke penned the letter supporting Boender's project.[18] Burke was among 49 aldermen who approved giving $5.3 million in taxpayer funding to a labor organization, the Chicago Construction and General Laborers' Council, to buy the 24-acre site from Boender. Boender made a 37 percent profit on the land, which he had owned for about six years, city records show.[20]

Burke maintains, at taxpayer expense, a salaried staff to ghost-write speeches, resolutions, and works of non-fiction for him, including among others Thomas J. O'Gorman, carried on Burke's City Council staff payroll as a "legislative aide" since 1995, currently earning $7,233/month, $86,796/year.[21] In October, 2006, Burke and O'Gorman published End of Watch, a book which details the lives and tragedies of police officers who have died in the line of duty. Also, Burke and R. Craig Sautter published the book Inside the Wigwam: Chicago Presidential Conventions 1860-1996.[22] Under Burke's direction, the Finance Committee staff compiled historical exhibits that hang on the walls in City Hall, and drafts resolutions which memorialize the deaths of prominent Americans and Chicagoans as well as honoring special visitors to Chicago.

Burke is among several aldermen who lease sports utility vehicles at taxpayer expense. In 2008 Burke paid $9,712 for the year to lease a Chevrolet Tahoe. Burke also has at his disposal an unmarked Chicago police car as part of a city-funded security detail. Burke's Finance Committee provides expense-account guidance to all newly elected aldermen.[23] Burke is the only Chicago alderman who has police officers assigned to him as bodyguards.[24] For a nine month period in 2005, the Chicago Police Department bodyguards assigned to the city clerk, city treasurer and Burke did not file a single police report.[25]

In 2009, a year in which most of Chicago's unionized employees have been forced to take unpaid days off and make other cost-cutting concessions, Burke freshened up his third-floor suite at City Hall including new carpeting, re-painting, and replacing chairs and cubicles.[26]

Burke controls a $1.3M taxpayer-funded payroll account available to aldermen with no scrutiny. Burke spent the largest chunk of the payroll - $70,164 - in 2008, a total higher than any other ward by more than $26,000. According to the city budget, payments must be approved in writing by Burke.[27]

Political career

Burke controls two well-funded political action committees, the "Friends of Edward M Burke" and "The Burnham Committee."[28] In July, 2009, Burke's campaign fund totaled $3.7 million — more than any other alderman's.[14]

Unsuccessful bid for Cook County State's Attorney

Burke was an unsuccessful candidate for State's Attorney against Richard M. Daley (the current Mayor) in 1980. At the time Burke was aligned with Daley's rival, Mayor Jane Byrne.

Professional career

Burke is a part-time alderman. He is a principal in a successful downtown Chicago law firm, Klafter and Burke, which specializes in property tax appeals[29] and an author. Burke had 37 law clients that did business with the city or other local government agencies, according to his annual ethics statement filed in 2007. Of the eight aldermen who are attorneys, only Burke disclosed local government clients.[30] In his 2009 disclosure statement filed with the city, Burke reported receiving at least $5,000 in 2008 from each of 31 law clients that also do business with the city.[14]

Personal life

Burke resides in the southwestern neighborhood of Archer Heights, close to Curie Metropolitan High School.[19]

Burke's wife Anne was installed as an Illinois Supreme Court Justice on July 4, 2006 and has served as an Illinois Appellate Court Justice.

Burke's brother Daniel J. Burke is a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from Illinois' 23rd District, which includes the 14th ward.[2]

Their adult children are Jennifer, Edward, and Sarah; their other adult son Emmett was killed in a snowmobiling accident in 2004. In February 1996, the Burkes became foster parents to a child born to a woman suffering drug addiction. The child's natural mother, Tina Olison, sued to regain custody of her child several times before the Illinois State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Burkes in 2001.[31]



  1. ^ Chicago ward map
  2. ^ a b c Novak, Tim (2009-05-25). "Burke gets zoning break, special parking; Powerful alderman gets zoning break, special parking". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1589875,CST-NWS-watchdog25.article. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  3. ^ Dardick, Hal (2009-03-18). "City Council offers to tribute to Ald. Ed Burke for 40 years of service". Chicago Tribune. http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2009/03/city-council-offers-to-tribute-to-ald-ed-burke-for-40-years-of-service.html. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d Fremon, David (1988). Chicago Politics Ward by Ward. Indiana University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0253313449. 
  5. ^ "Burke, New Alderman, Resigns Post as Bailif". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. B12. 1953-11-11. 
  6. ^ a b Schreiber, Edward (1969-03-05). "7 Candidates in 14th Ward Race Tuesday". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. A6. 
  7. ^ "ALD. J. BURKE IS HONORED BY CITY COUNCIL". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. A4. 1968-05-15. 
  8. ^ a b "Democrats Move Fast to Fill Five Empty Seats in Council". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 5. 1968-11-09. 
  9. ^ "29 CANDIDATES ENTER RACES IN SIX WARDS: Democrats Will Face Stiff Competition". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 5. 1969-01-07. 
  10. ^ "Draft Board Reclassifies Burke as 1-A". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. N2. 1969-06-14. 
  11. ^ "Ald. Ed Burke Joins Reserve, Avoids Draft; Enters Unit Headed by Lawyer Friend". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 16. 1969-07-25. 
  12. ^ "Probe Begins in Draft Case of Ald. Burke". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. C26. 1969-08-28. 
  13. ^ Jones, William (1970-12-25). "Fired City Aide Now a Candidate". Chicago Tribune: p. 4. 
  14. ^ a b c d Strahler, Steven R. (2009-07-13). "Amid crisis, where's Ed?". Crain's Chicago Business. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/article.pl?articleId=32163. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  15. ^ GILLIS, MICHAEL; SPIELMAN, FRAN (1997-01-24). "Burke named in case of ghost payroller". Chicago Sun-Times. http://quickproxy4.chipublib.org/SuZoN1261/url=http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:CSTB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=0EB422E92416E710&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=C23BE832E46446E3AEC1CCAEBDEAF5AE. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  16. ^ Spielman, Fran; Novak, Tim; Warmbir, Steve (2004-06-03). "Burke aide, not women, ran truck firm: city". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/hired/113189,cst-nws-hired0603.article. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  17. ^ "Alderman Burke's partners". Chicago Sun-Times. 2009-05-25. http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1590503,watchdogs-052509-side.article. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  18. ^ a b Fusco, Chris; Novak, Tim; Spielman, Fran (2009-06-29). "Ald. Edward Burke helped friends with city deals; SUN-TIMES INVESTIGATION: Alderman couldn't vote on associates' projects in his ward, but he did back them". Chicago Sun-Times. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:CSTB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=129232DBAE63CF08&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB579A3BDA420. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  19. ^ a b Fusco, Chris (2009-09-08). "The fence that Burke built: Powerful alderman spent $45,499 in taxpayer money to build a sidewalk and fence longer than a football field that keeps teens from hanging around the railroad track behind his home". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1758078,CST-NWS-watchdog08.article. 
  20. ^ Novak, Tim; Fusco, Chris (2009-07-06). "Indicted Chicago developer made big profit on city deal; Builder allegedly bribed Ald. Carothers, but other aldermen had ties to him, too". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/1653232,CST-NWS-watchdogs06.article. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  21. ^ "Public Payroll Database". Better Government Association. http://www.bettergov.org/Research/Employees.aspx. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  22. ^ Curry, Jessica. "The Private Life of Ed Burke, 2005 Chicago Life interview". 
  23. ^ Dardick, Hal (2009-08-15). "What's in Chicago aldermanic expense accounts?". Chicago Tribune. http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2009/08/whats-in-chicago-aldermanic-expense-accounts.html. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  24. ^ Spielman, Fran (2006-01-19). "Will other city officials lose police guards?". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/hired/31589,cst-nws-laski19.article. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  25. ^ Bradley, Ben (2006-01-19). "Are police bodyguards necessary for some politicians?". ABC7Chicago. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=3828718. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  26. ^ Spielman, Fran (2009-08-06). "How suite it is to be Council Finance chief". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/1703592,CST-NWS-burke06.article. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  27. ^ Dardick, Hal; Gabler, Ellen (2009-11-19). "Friends & family fund for Chicago aldermen; Shadowy $1.3 million payroll helps them get around ban on patronage hiring". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-aldermen-payroll19nov19,0,1560541,full.story. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  28. ^ "Illinois State Board of Elections". http://www.elections.state.il.us/CampaignDisclosure/Welcome.aspx. 
  29. ^ "Klafter and Burke". http://www.klafterandburke.com/. 
  30. ^ Spielman, Fran (2007-05-02). "Ald. Burke loses 10 blue-chip clients; replaces them". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.bettergov.org/bga_in_news_20070502_01.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  31. ^ Sneed, Michael (2001-10-07). "The "Baby T" case is over". Chicago Sun-Times. 

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