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Ward Politics Thu Oct 04 2012

Ward Nights Shrink, but Moore Still Sees a Use

Joe Moore doesn't get many visitors to his office on Wednesday evenings. He used to get more, but over the years, the numbers have dwindled.

Wednesday evenings are ward nights in Chicago's 49th ward. Each week, from 5-7 p.m., Moore, who became alderman of the far North Side ward 21 years ago, opens the doors of his office at 7356 N. Greenview for constituents to walk in and talk with him about, well, whatever.

Moore said he used to get more guests years ago, but doesn't think the reduced numbers on Wednesdays are a bad thing. Rather, he sees it as a testament to his staff, who he credits with keeping on top of constituent concerns.

People still come to Moore for help, but he said they're often looking for help he can't easily provide.

moore03_01.jpgThey're just looking for work," Moore said between meetings with constituents Wednesday. "There's still this belief [aldermen] have the keys to the city jobs."

These days, an aldermanic recommendation for a job doesn't mean what it did before the Shakman Decrees. Moore said, in fact, that a recommendation from an alderman may do more harm than good when it comes to getting a city job.

But not all ward meetings deal with such innocuous issues. On Wednesday, in fact, a group of residents met with Moore, as well as Brian Frost (a video analyst for the Chicago Housing Authority) and Sgt. Bob Kane and Commander Jim Roussell of the Chicago Police Department's Rogers Park district to talk about the problem of keeping crime under control at two of the 17 CHA units in the ward.

The group agreed that the issue of unauthorized people moving into the buildings is key to keeping crime down, but Moore said after the meeting that doing so can be difficult because residents are allowed overnight guests and the line between long-term guest and unauthorized resident is blurry.

"It's sometimes hard to determine who's a visitor," Moore said.

The bottom line, Moore said, is that the weekly meetings give him a good sense of how things are going in his ward and show constituents that they can come to him with any issue they might be facing.

"It's not like there are palace guards separating me from my constituents," he said.

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