Another collection of dispatches from Somebody Nobody Asked™, America's pre-eminent unsolicited advice columnist .
Dear Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
Do not appoint Democratic state Rep. Deb Mell of Chicago to the City Council vacancy created by the retirement of her father, Ald. Dick Mell (33rd).
Papa Mell announced last week that he's stepping down from the seat he's held since 1975 and said that he "would favor" his daughter, 44, as his replacement. And word about town is that your allegedly deliberative replacement process has already been rigged.
Mell the Elder deserves no favors after having launched toward the governor's office his goofball son-in-law Rod Blagojevich, now known as federal inmate No. 40892-424.
And Mell the Younger stumbled out of the gate when she cast the only vote in the Illinois House not to impeach her brother-in-law instead of acknowledging a conflict of interest and abstaining.
But that's not why you shouldn't do the daddy-daughter swap. Dick Mell has offered sincere apologies for being such a poor judge of character and Deb Mell has been an otherwise capable state representative in my Northwest Side district. Bygones.
No, you shouldn't appoint Deb Mell because, appearances notwithstanding, we don't live in a dynastic monarchy where children inherit political power directly from their parents. To keep up appearances, the seemly way to pass the scepter is through elections.
Noted offspring such as Lisa Madigan, Todd Stroger, Dan Lipinski, Aurelia Pucinski, Richard M. and John Daley, Dan Hynes, Sheila Simon, Ed Burke, Emil Jones III and Jesse Jackson Jr., went through the formality of getting voter approval before assuming their offices, and Deb Mell, who won her seat in the General Assembly fair and square, should do the same if she wants to be on the City Council.
It looks bad. It smells bad. Like the crony politics that self-styled reformers — ahem — are duty bound to deplore.
Even if you come to believe that Deb Mell is the single most qualified resident of the 33rd Ward to become the alderman (and what a coincidence that would be!), appoint a place holder to keep the father's seat warm until she can win it on her own — ahem again — at the next aldermanic election in 2015.
Dear New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
Thank you for your interest in the Illinois governor's race.
We're touched that you cared enough to cut a 90-second Web video recently in which you addressed the camera and extolled the virtues of Democratic hopeful Bill Daley.
But go away now.
You announced a while back your plan to offer significant financial backing to primary challengers of incumbent Democrats whom you consider overly friendly with the National Rifle Association. Fair enough. It's a free country, particularly when it comes to the political speech of extremely wealthy people like yourself.
Yet incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, whatever else his flaws, is an outspoken proponent of gun control who frequently lashes out at the NRA.
Why, just last week he took a couple of whacks at the gun-rights group when issuing an amendatory veto of concealed-carry legislation.
"There are too many provisions in this bill inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good," said Quinn's veto message. Specifically he referred to a restriction on the ability of municipalities to regulate assault-style weapons as an "NRA-inspired provision (that) is not in the best interest of public safety or local communities."
Quinn wants to change the legislation to ban concealed guns in all establishments that serve alcohol, not just bars. And he wants to make it so citizens can carry guns into private businesses only if posted signs give them permission to do so.
These and a few other suggestions are almost certainly doomed in the General Assembly this week when legislators, who have reportedly already entertained and rejected all of Quinn's ideas, are likely to override his veto.
I'm guessing you have your reasons for interjecting yourself into our gubernatorial contest — a personal fondness for Bill Daley or his brother Richard, a former fellow big-city mayor, perhaps; an admiration for Bill's strong business background — but I know Daley's comparative bona fides on gun control can't be among them.
And as for helping him, with this video you've accomplished little more than handing the Quinn campaign a nice line of attack: The people of Illinois don't need the soda-nanny mayor of New York City telling them who should be their governor.
Keep it up, and you'll be hearing from the lawyers of Somebody Nobody Asked™.
Dear Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez:
Go ahead, apologize to Daniel Taylor.
Apologize on behalf of your office. Two of your predecessors worked to keep Taylor behind bars for more than 16 years for a 1992 murder that occurred at a time when he was in police custody, according to departmental records.
Their prosecutors chose to believe a confession Taylor says was beaten out of him, even after the Tribune brought the case to light in 2001 and began to reveal even more implausibilities in the conviction.
These implausibilities were no doubt the reason you dropped the case June 28 and allowed Taylor to walk out of Menard Correctional Center a free man, though your dry official statement referred only to the "interest of justice" and expressed no regret for the blinkered shenanigans and bad faith that cost a man 20 years of his life.
Apologize personally. You've owned the Taylor case for the last four years. And though your Conviction Integrity Unit at last woke up — with some nudges from the federal appellate courts and the Illinois attorney general's office — and did the right thing, the delay was shameful.
Don't worry about the potential impact on Taylor's inevitable wrongful conviction suit against the county. He'll have a huge payday either way. For generations to come, this story — they convicted him even though they had him locked up when the crime occurred! — will be a nationally renown tale of justice gone wrong.
Worry instead about whether the public can have confidence in your determination to root out and admit mistakes, mistakes that happen inevitably in any system. Confidence in your ability to learn from such mistakes and to feel genuine regret about them.
The "interest of justice" also demands that you say you're sorry to Daniel Taylor.
You can't put a question to Somebody Nobody Asked™, of course, but you can comment on the validity of his gratuitous counsel at chicagotribune.com/zorn