Longtime Alderman Thomas Keane Dies Poltical Playmaker Helped Richard J. Daley Get Elected

By Allen, Jim | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 11, 1996 | Go to article overview

Longtime Alderman Thomas Keane Dies Poltical Playmaker Helped Richard J. Daley Get Elected


Allen, Jim, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jim Allen Daily Herald Staff Writer

Thomas Earl Keane, a powerful Chicago City Council floor leader who helped launch the legendary Richard J. Daley's rise to mayor and later went to prison, died Tuesday after an extended battle with kidney failure. He was 90.

Keane, a state senator in 1945, took over the 31st Ward, which included the Humboldt Park area. As alderman and ward committeeman he went on to work with other key Democratic committeemen to snub incumbent Mayor Martin Kennelly, steering party backing in 1955 to Daley, who positioned himself as a reform candidate to oppose Kennelly.

Toward the end of both men's tenure, Keane's most famous comment was: "Daley wanted power, and I wanted to make money, and we both succeeded.'"

After his election, Daley grabbed the reins and refused to be steered by the council. But he made Keane his council floor leader, a powerful position that expanded in 1958 when Keane became the chairman of the finance committee.

From those two seats of power, Keane was able to dictate who the other committee chairmen would be and thus who would have access to plum patronage jobs and contracts. In addition, he controlled council debate and signaled to allies how votes should go.

A master parliamentarian, Keane also laid the groundwork for the home-rule powers, which ultimately grew to help the mayor consolidate the city's control over various tax revenues and policy decisions without interference from Springfield.

"Tom Keane's role as one of the leaders of Chicago will probably never be fully appreciated," said Edward M. …

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