Tuesday, September 8, 2009



I sent the following note to Chris Fusco, ace Chicago Sun-Times political reporter, in response to his “The Watchdogs” article in today’s (i.e., Tuesday, 9/8/09’s) Sun-Times entitled “The Fence that Burke Built.” In that alternately entertaining and depressing, but not at all surprising, article, Fusco describes the fence that 14th Ward Alderman, and City Council Finance Committee Chairman, Ed Burke had built with taxpayer money, ostensibly to keep Curie High School kids off the adjoining railroad tracks. The fence, just coincidentally, serves to keep the same kids, or anyone else, safely away from the Alderman’s relatively newly built $900,000 home, situated in a neighborhood in which $900,000 normally mighty buy as many as ten homes.

I post this letter for two reasons. First, the letter, and the article to which it responds, gives the reader an idea how Alderman Burke, the dean of the City Council, and some of his colleagues regard the City’s treasury, and their constituents. Second, the letter promotes my upcoming book.



Hi Chris,

Nice article on the fence around Ed Burke’s house, which, as you know, is just barely within the boundaries of his 14th Ward.

Whatever happened to Burke’s “old” house on the northwest corner of 50th and Campbell? That was quite the place, too. Did he tire of that particular mansion? Was it possibly redistricted out of the 14th Ward? Perhaps more interestingly, who bought the place, the “stately Burke manor” in a well-kept and nice, though decidedly working class, neighborhood in which such a palace is clearly out of place? Was the buyer politically connected? There could be a story here, but maybe not. I am curious not only because I am an avid fan of Chicago politics (My novel, The Chairman: A Novel of Big City Politics, which takes place in a very thinly veiled Chicago, should be out next month.), but also because my grandmother lived two doors away from the 50th and Campbell compound. She, and my uncles, aunts, and cousins, who all lived on a two block span on 49th and 50th and Campbell, were piqued, convinced that Burke, by building his gargantuan monument to himself, was rubbing their noses in their far more materially mundane existences. Their attitudes toward the Alderman were far from unique among their neighbors.

Thanks, Chris; keep up the good work.

Mark Quinn

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