45 years in, Ald. Burke is longest serving city council member: Sneed

Written By By MICHAEL SNEED Posted: 03/11/2014, 02:13am
Array Edward Burke as a little boy with his father, Ald. Joseph P. Burke. | Provided photo

The bastion of Burkedom: Forty-five years and counting!

Sneed exclusive . . .

The Burke beat . . .

On Tuesday, Ald. Edward M. Burke, 70, will have spent 45 years on the City Council, the city’s longest-serving member of all time.

The legendary “Dean” of the City Council served under eight mayors (which includes a one-week stint by David Orr) as alderman of the 14th Ward — a post held by his late father, Joseph P. Burke.

Burke has outdistanced Ald. James Bowler, who served intermittently from 1906 to 1953 and left office when he was nearly 80 years old.

Gone are the sideburns, brown hair and dark, horned-rim glasses once sported by a dorky looking young Burke; now replaced by dapper duds and a white helmet of hair, “or what’s left of it,” chirped Burke, who holds the council’s purse strings as its powerful Finance Committee chairman.

Now credited with being a master parliamentarian, Burke began his career as a Chicago cop; serving from 1965 to 1968 until his father, who had been a deputy Cook County sheriff, died in aldermanic office.

“Ed still keeps his police jacket hanging in our closet at home,” said his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, who he met while she worked at the Chicago Park District. “He’s proud of the police legacy, and it serves as a reminder every time he opens the closet,” she said.

A history wonk, Burke has also co-authored two books of Chicago history — and if you’re not careful, he can go on and onnnnnnnnnnn about Butch O’Hare, a World War II ace whose name is now affixed to one of Chicago’s airports.

An avid golfer who loves fancy cuff links; Burke hates cheese; loves homemade meatloaf; is a prodigious pepper pourer; law partner in the firm of Klafter and Burke; and proud father of Jennifer, Eddie, Sarah, Travis and the late Emmett Burke.

He also carries a green pen.

In addition, Burke’s favorite mayor is Richard J. Daley. “He had a heart and believed in helping people, And if it weren’t for him, I would never had the chance to be Dem committeeman and alderman.”

◆ Favorite motto: “Remember the people you meet on the way up because you could meet them on the way down.”

◆ Favorite advice: “Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.”

◆ Favorite legislation he proposed: “Mandatory carbon monoxide detectors, which have clearly saved lives,” he said.

◆ Most infamous escapade: Leading the City Council in prayer “for intercession of the Holy Spirit” at 4:02 a.m. before a vote count during the infamous Council Wars, which elected a Burke-backed candidate, then-Ald. Gene Sawyer (6th), as the city’s new mayor.

◆ His list of favorite aldermen include the late Ald. Seymour Simon (40th) as the “most intelligent,” the late Ald. Vito Marzullo’s (25th) speeches as the most hilarious; then-Ald. Terry Gabinski (32nd) as his closest council mate; and then-Ald. Eddie Vrdolyak (10th) as having “the best sense of humor.”

“I don’t have a least favorite mayor, and have a great working relationship with Mayor Emanuel, who is willing to take on tough issues and do what’s necessary,” he said.

“I do have a favorite book,” he said. “Barbara Tuchman’s ‘March of Folly,’ which cites historical examples of mistakes by leaders.

“Everyone should read it.”

Reef romance . . .

Love on the links? President Barack Obama, who monitored the crisis in Ukraine from the Ocean Reef golf links in Key Largo, Fla., this past weekend, teed off with a foursome of friends, including sportscaster and former NFL wide receiver Ahmad Rashad and Cyrus Walker, a cousin of senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett — whom Rashad is reportedly dating on the hush-hush!

(The other member of the foursome was former NBA player Alonzo Mourning.)

Sneedlings . . .

Tuesday’s birthdays: Rupert Murdoch, 83; Sam Donaldson, 80, and Bobby McFerrin, 64.

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