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A closer look at the politics of Chicago's potholes

Are City Council lapdogs getting the potholes in their streets fixed any faster than independents? The simple answer is no.

The Chicago Reader’s Ben Joravsky took a closer look at the politics involved when it comes to street repairs.

Specifically, the belief that “there’s a correlation between the voting habits of Chicago aldermen and the services their constituents receive.”

Joravsky writes that people see “unfilled potholes as Mayor Emanuel’s version of the Big Payback — and not merely as a sign of wider dysfunction in the delivery of basic services.

“It’s time to set this straight,” he continues. “The truth is that the suck-ups aren’t able to keep their streets in any better shape than the independents.”

Either way, Chicago has a lot of potholes.

A few weeks ago a city spokesman told WBBM radio that city crews had filled more than 540,000 potholes so far this year, putting them on pace to break the single-year record of 630,000.

“I had a guy come into my office with an oil pan that just got sheared off his car by a pothole,” Alderman Scott Waguespack said. “It’s getting ridiculous out there.”

Alderman Ameya Pawar says getting potholes filled isn’t that easy — and there’s a strategy involved.

“If you have a project coming up that will tear up the streets, you hold off,” Pawar said. “You also have to consider utility repairs. When these work crews have to do an emergency job, the patching job is not always great.”

Waguespack isn’t so quick to let Emanuel off the hook.

“Under Mayor Daley, it seemed most of the potholes were filled by April,” he said.

But does Emanuel have some secret mission to fill potholes based on an alderman’s loyalty?

“I don’t think that’s a connection,” Pawar said.