Stephanie Fong, Zachary Fazio, Landis Masnor, and Renee Meschi are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Summer Internship Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
Since beginning my internship, the question I've been asked the most is: " Where is the bathroom?" F.Y.I., on the second floor of City Hall, when you are walking towards the Aldermanic offices, the men's room is to the right towards the Council Chambers, and the women's room is to the left. The problem is that there are no visible signs. I've lobbied to have larger, more visible placards installed, but my efforts have been in vain.
The question I've been asked the most after the aforementioned question is: "What have you learned?" the most honest answer I have is, I have a lot to learn. To be able to draft legislation, or develop policy and have said legislation passed, takes a lifetime of amassing knowledge in various fields, i.e. mathematics, rhetoric, finance, history, etc. Once you are able to develop sound policy, you must be able to influence other people to make them believe that your policy is beneficial to a majority of the people. I'm reminded of a phrase coined by Tip O'Neill, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives: "All politics is local." O'Neill had introduced a $1-billion jobs bill in the House of Representatives. House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel, whose district encompassed Peoria, Illinois, was vehemently opposed to the bill. So, Tip O'neill took his message directly to the people of Peoria. In a taped broadcast, O'Neill argued that the people of Peoria would benefit from the infrastructure improvements included in the bill.
I've been able to see how Tip O'Neill's wise words are of the utmost importance while watching the politicking of Chicago's City Council. I'd even attempt to take his phrase a bit further and say that all politics is personal. Let's say you're an Alderman who voted against one of the Mayor's appointments to be Commissioner of X. It's well within your implied powers, as an Alderman, to do so. However, lets say the Mayor remembers your antagonistic vote, so he decides to run a candidate against you in the next election cycle. This can make your life very difficult, because now you have to raise more money, you have to campaign harder, and your voting record is going to be under scrutiny, which will require you to be on the defensive more often than you would like to be. These are but a few of a plethora of other problems that can arise from being on the Mayor's bad side. This sort of situation arises all the time. I will leave you with a recent example: http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/6019230-418/moreno-mayoral-aide-made-threats-before-choi-hearing.html