Natarus faces a tag-team challenge

Natarus is our alderman, and we have mixed feelings about his job performance. The kooky part is fine, I appreciate the theater, but there are several issues we've brought up to the 42nd ward office that have not been responded to. I doubt he'll lose however, too many developers depend upon Natarus, and have paid handsomely for the privilege.

Council original faces a tag-team challenge | Chicago Tribune Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) was on a roll at a City Council meeting a few months ago where he philosophized about dogs and their owners.

Having a pet “makes people softer, a little bit nicer, a little bit more humane,” Natarus declared in a typical seat-of-the-pants soliloquy as the council passed a measure increasing fines for negligent masters. “Dog owners approach each other with their dogs and they go nicey, nicey--`I love you, you love me.' It makes people friendly.”
But his attempt to win a new term in the Feb. 27 election will not necessarily be easy as the alderman faces two opponents, including a well-funded former aide to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Brendan Reilly contends that Natarus has “lost touch with the priorities” of his constituents and needs to be replaced.

Fellow challenger Mike Libert, a former Near North Side club owner and restaurateur, is making a similar call for a fresh approach to neighborhood problems.

The 42nd is the highest profile ward in the city, encompassing the Loop, North Michigan Avenue and Streeterville, River North and the Gold Coast. It is where the biggest business deals are made and the biggest projects are constructed.

By council tradition, the local alderman has great influence over approval of larger developments, and Natarus has the campaign war chest to prove it. Developers, real estate lawyers and architects have contributed to his political fund, which had more than $580,000, according to the most recent report filed with the state.

and he is in love with the sound of his own voice, but so are most politicians.

To colleagues who sometimes roll their eyes as he cranks up, he is a City Council windbag who loves the spotlight.

Natarus himself has acknowledged that some view him as “a buffoon.”

But “I got to have a little fun,” he said in a recent interview. “You got to lighten up a little bit. Sometimes when you lighten up, you get clear thoughts.”

Even as he serves as referee on big projects such as a controversial design by architect Santiago Calatrava for a proposed Streeterville high-rise, Natarus prides himself on keeping the ward clean and handling the innumerable nitty-gritty complaints and concerns of residents.

“I am always available,” he said. “I don't know how many aldermen have their [home] phones listed. I have never had--to the chagrin of a former wife--an unlisted phone, and people call me. If I am not home, I pick up the message and I call them back.”

Hmmm, not sure about that. Perhaps because we've never given him a dime?

D also reminded me that Natarus opposed the anti-smoking ordinance, and acknowledged receiving cash from RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies.


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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 25, 2007 9:38 AM.

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