Category Archives: mayor daley

>OBSERVATION: The Chicago-izing of America

>If elected, will Barack Obama save the Chicago Democrat machine? Duh! Of course.

The oldest and arguably most racist and corrupt political machine in American history has been showing signs of a death rattle these days. Thanks to a crusading U.S. Attorney and a growing disenchantment with the point man, Mayor Richard Daley – and the Daley clan, in general – it seems that the political institution launched in the 1930s is tottering.

Most critical has been the loss of patronage leverage. Thanks to the courts and something called the Shakman decree, the Chicago bosses can no longer use government employees as political and personal lackeys. They cannot impose the historic indentured servitude that forced underlings to work precincts and raise political dough. They can no longer safely re-sell government services for campaign contributions.

However, for many years, the law was simply ignored, and monkey business in City Hall continued as usual. That was until a one-term Republican senator, Peter Fitzgerald, refused to play go-along politics in the appointment of a new U.S. Attorney. Over the objections of the good ole boys of both parties, the Senator picked the untouchable Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation).

Now with hundreds of indictments and convictions under his belt, including one governor, a smattering of high profile influence peddlers and Mayor Daley’s closest aides, the machine mischief of the past has come to a screeching halt. In a complete reversal of polarity, the endorsement of an alderman today will most likely kill a job applicant’s potential for a city job.

In addition to the structural problem, Chicago is transforming from a “city that works” to a community beset with critical financial, social and infrastructure problems. What is knows locally as “the corruption tax” has placed Cook County and Chicago in the stratosphere of taxing municipalities. Yet, to the chagrin of the public, children still go uneducated and potholes go unfilled.

Enter President Obama. The irony in having an African-American (even half) breath life into the white-controlled political machine of Chicago is not lost on the locals. Obama would not be the first “window dressing” black political figure to provide a measure of politically correct diversity to the racist machine – gaining a personal piece of the political pie while keeping the greater black community in perma-subservient underclass status.

Despite promises to the contrary, you can rest assured that Obama will most certainly dismiss Patrick Fitzgerald and appoint a patsy recommended by Illinois’ strident partisan U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. Daley, who some believe could be indicted, himself, will breath the loudest sigh of relief. Once again, the effect of reform laws and court decisions will be thwarted by lack of investigation, enforcement and prosecution.

The city’s and state’s financial problems will be provided financial opiates from the federal vault which will temporarily mask the surface symptoms of the mismanaged local economy. Obama & Co. will open the federal treasury to whatever his political padrones need. Chicago’s inefficiencies and costs of corruption will be plastered over with cold cash courtesy of the national taxpayers.

Like Lazarus, an Obama presidency could raise Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid from the dead. While there would be some entertainment value for the people of Chicago – offset by the frustrations attendant to extreme overcrowding – the real winners would be the political insiders who would not only get the best seats at every venue, but would pocket enormous amounts of money from every imaginable skim and scam.

Whatever the Chicago machine has lost in terms of the power over local patronage will be more than made up from the mother lode of jobs available on the federal payrolls. Chicago cronies and family members will be filling moving vans heading east within days of an Obama victory. At least two Cabinet positions will be handed to Chicago Democrats.

With the trifecta of Obama in the White House, Dick Durbin one step away from the top job in the Senate and Rahm Emmanuel as heir-apparent to the speakership of the U.S. House, there is no doubt that the Chicago Democrat machine will be the proverbial kid in grandpa’s candy story.

Advertisements

>FOOTNOTE: No criticism for Mayor Daley

>Little noted in the massive glowing coverage of the Democrat convention was a speech by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. I found his remarks memorable for only one thing he said. Referring to the overall tone of the convention, he said, “We don’t want any criticism.” That is pretty much the way he runs Chicago.

There is no doubt that the latest Daley to rule Chicago wants Barack Obama elected. Seems natural since Obama comes from Illinois. But it is more than favorite son parochialism. It is more than the advantage in procuring those federal funds that comes with having your own President. The biggest benefit, however, is the firing of that pesky reform-minded, highly effective, crusading U.S. Attorney who keeps a rather impressive “to be indicted” list — and many observers think Daley is on it, along with Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Most of the local folks, who watched Obama rise as a machine candidate, without the slightest inclination for reform, expect that once in the White House, he would drop any pretense of reform for politics the way he learned it — the Chicago way.

>REACT: Crime and punishment, Chicago style.

>

I suspect Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is steaming, as only he can. Seems that the streets of his kingdom have become significantly less safe. Crime has “spiked,” as they say. This means the gang bangers, robbers and rapists are running amok. Public school students are being gunned down at a rate of one a week.

It is sooooo bad that our the ever-grandstanding Governor Rod Blagojevich — sensing a headline — proposed sending in the National Guard and helicopters to police the streets of Chicago, calling the Mayor’s turf “out of control.” Ouch! Double ouch!!

Of course, the Governor got his headline — in fact the entire cover of the Chicago Sun-Times with him caricatured as the quintessential cowboy sheriff. I only hope there were no City Hall staffers within paperweight distance when the morning paper hit the Mayor’s desk.

Already, the new police superintendent, Jody Weis (left), had been brought to the Mayor’s fifth floor City Hall office for a private (leaked to the media) dressing down. He was then dragged before the entire city council for a more public flogging. Maybe the top cop will be the next Daleyite to be tossed under the bus to protect Hizzonor from blame.

Much of the Mayor’s angst has to do with the Olympics. Getting a gold medal for crime is not the way to impress the International Olympic Committee.

In response to the crime wave, Daley resurrects his harangue about gun control. Somehow he cannot get it through his stubborn skull that his version of gun control is not the answer. Has not worked. Will not work. In fact, it may be a part of the problem.

For God sake, there is a total ban on gun ownership in Chicago, except for alderman and criminals. (Am I repeating myself here?) What more can you do? Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court may force the city to restore the constitutional right of self protection in the City of Chicago, where police protection is less than assuring. Repealing the gun ban could do more to reduce crime (and the number of criminals) than wimpy regulation and outraged pronouncements.

Daley is also offering a bounty for guns turned into the city — for pounding into plow shares, I assume. This effort brought in more than 6000 guns in the past (about 10 plow shares worth). But what was he actually gotten off the streets? Broken guns, guns owned by honest citizens who never harmed a soul, stolen guns (yeah, people actually committing a crime to get the bounty), BB and pellet guns and even toy guns. As far as can be determined, it does not appear that the violent crooks (currently busy raising the crime stats) surrendered a single gun.

This year, the program is not going so well. I think it is possible that in view of the Supreme Court decision and the rise in Chicago crime, the people are hanging on to their weapons.

Daley has not figured out that if you cannot disarm the criminals, there is no benefit to disarming the God-fearing public. Maybe if the public had guns, the Governor would not need to send in reinforcements.

>OBSERVATION: Chicago Olympics? Not likely.

>According to the latest reports, of the four finalist cities, Chicago is in third place in public support for the Olympics with a luke warm 74 percent. Madrid takes the gold with 90 percent public support. Rio de Janeiro is second with 77 percent, and Tokyo is out of medal range with an embarrassing 59 percent support. The people of Tokyo hosted a summer Olympics in the past. Should their lack of enthusiasm tell us something?

So far, the Chicago Olympic bid is generating nothing but positive civic booster publicity. So much so, that it is ominous that one-fourth of the public is not enthused. I suspect Rio will boost its ranking and Chicago will slip a bit as some of the downsides and objectors begin to surface.

The two big factors are money and infrastructure. While the Chicago Olympic committee talks about the enormous inflow of case from the quadrennial event, most Chicagoans know that optimistic economic b—s— is the standard in Chicago.

There is the case of the enormous cost overruns for Millennium Park and the short fall in the Grant Park parking garage as a source of funding. One of the major reasons Mayor Daley wants the Chicago Children’s Museum in Grant Park is to shore up the garage revenues – and that probably will be the next disappointment. The foredoomed bottle tax is generating only 25 percent of the revenue the smarty-guy economic forecasters predicted.

It is almost beyond debate that Olympic costs will soar and revenues will fall very short of projections, IF Chicago is selected by the International Olympic Committee. It is the Chicago way.
While much has been said about private sector funding of the Olympic bid, a lot more taxpayer money will be spent than anyone in City Hall will admit. And even the so-called private funding will be provided by CEOs from the corporate treasury – indiscriminately using stockholder money instead of their own. Again, it is the Chicago way.

The lust for the Olympics does not come from grass-level civic pride, but rather from elitist insiders who see the international games as the next cash cow/ego trip. For the Mayor, it is a jewel in the career crown, with tons of dinero to spread around to friends. There are those who will enjoy enormous financial windfalls, and those who will get all the front row seats and headtable assignments — and those who will get both. The only people who will be left out of the goodies are those paying the tab. Taxpayers and corporate shareholders will be footing the bill, but left fighting for a few tickets in the upper decks. The Chicago way.

If I am correct, however, the only money that will be wasted is the taxpayer and shareholder contributions to the Olympic bid effort. There is an overriding reason Chicago will not get the Olympics, in my opinion. It is C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N. The political/business environment of Chicago is just too greedy and crooked to be trusted to handle the Olympics.

Perhaps we locals are used to operating within this culture of corruption, but we cannot expect the OIC to embrace our low standards of public service and political performance. The international folks are not fitted with the same civic blinders that prevent us locals from seeing the corruption and criminality that characterizes our political culture.

As Olympic plans move forward, it is likely that controversy will ensue. Who is getting appointed to what? And why? Wired in contracts. Dislocation of neighborhoods. Disruption and environmental denigration of green space.

There is also the emboldenment of the civic community in response to the increasingly autocratic style of the Mayor. The night time destruction of Meigs and the forced imposition of the Children’s Museum in Grant Park were victories for the Mayor. In their wake, however, there appears to be an anti-Daley coalition forming. Behind closed doors, many civic activists see the sinking of the Mayor’s pet Olympic project as the perfect retribution. Given the natural problems the Chicago bid already faces, it will not take a lot of civic turmoil to scare off the OIC.

There is also the question of “the great uncertainty.” The IOC will make the final decision in 2009, but they must envision the Chicago of 2016. Given the growing financial crises at the city and county levels, and the uncertainty of the power of the historic Democrat machine, there is ever reason to question whether Chicago can provide the longer term stability the IOC would be seeking.

If you have any desire to be in the stands for the 2016 Olympics, I would book a flight to Rio.

>REACT: Daley saves the day … for a change

>

In the case of the “pate de foie graz ban bungle” it took Chicago Mayor Rich Daley almost a year to knock out the “city’s silliest ordinance,” as he called it.

Well, Hizzonor was not about to have to wait another year to keep his “kids” in the City Council from another silly action. This time the Mayor stepped in.

Just about the time the Council was to vote to order the White House not to invade Iran (a truly silly thing, to be sure), the Mayor politely asked them refrain from passing the legislation.

Of course, even a polite request will get immediate obedience from the submissive aldermen. They well know that if you reject even the gentlest suggestion from Hizzonor, you will be tossed under the bus – and the Mayor has lots of buses.

He said he was concerned that such a resolution would hurt the presidential candidacy of favorite son Barak Obama. He does not want to upset the first time ever the Chicago political machine will get its own president. I mean … they have had several governors and a few senators rise from the ranks of the Chicago machine, but never a president.

This is real important, too. Everyone knows that the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has the Mayor’s brow in the prosecutorial crosshairs. Despite his promise to keep Fitzgerald, you can bet that in one of his first acts a President, Obama will sit with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to pick a replacement – some one not so … ah … aggressive? Someone more inclined to restore the tradition of “selective prosecution.” <– Meaning no machine pinky rings. I am not sure if the Mayor’s reason for opposing the ban is sincere, or just an excuse. Not sure how the resolution would hurt the campaign, especially since Obama is more of an appeasement dove than a militant hawk.

My suspicion is that the Mayor is kyboshing the ban because it really is silly AND because it is really a public relationship attack on President George Bush. Remember, Daley and Bush are buds. And until he surrenders the Oval Office, good ole pal George has the power of the pardon. In the spirit of Illinois’ unique brand of bipartisanship, Daley is already lobbying for clemency for the currently incarcerated George Ryan. Since springing Ryan from the hoosgow would be an incredibly bad and stupid thing, I say there is at least a 50/50 chance Bush will do it.

Whatever his motive, Delay has ended two Council sillinesses in one week. While I deplore the autocratic process, at least this time the Mayor really did save the “kids” from more silly mischief.

>LMAO: Of peace and pate …

>One would think that with all the serious problems besetting Chicago, the Windy City council of aldermen would be overburdened with the serious business of municipal governance. But noooooooo. This week, the city’s oversized and over stuffed legislative chamber came to grips with two issues that can only provoke well deserved public ridicule.

First the ward bases wielded their mighty power to defeat themselves. In an overwhelming vote the aldermen struck down the ban on the sale of pate de foie gras — a ban, they themselves past only a short time ago.

The main argument against the delicacy is how the birds are fed to produce those succulent fatty livers. Somehere along the way, the anti goose viscus crowd provided a humanized example of the process (pictured). Hmmm. I wonder if the demo offended as many people as it aroused. One of those “unanticipated consequences” things. Personally, I was more … uh … never mind. Not saying.

Mayor Daley orderedthe booting of the ban, calling the original action “the silliest ordinance” the Council has ever passed. Considering the impressive list of silly things done by the Chicago City Council at the order of the Mayor, that is an interesting indictment.

This of course raised an obvious question. Since the Council only does what the Mayor tells them to do, how did the silliest law ever get passed in the first place? Obviously someone failed to get the Mayor’s opinion on goose livers. Oh! Wait! Now I get it. The Mayor was saying that not getting his marching orders … that was the silliest thing the Council ever did. Now it makes sense.

Since the Council has now undone the silliest thing it ever did (and this time making sure they got the directive from the Mayor), they needed another silly thing to takes it place. Being very creative, it did not take them long to come up with a resolution to forbid the United States government from taking military action against Iran.

I certainly do not know whether we should or should not use our military to preempt the Iranian mad man from having nuclear weapons. Almost everyone in the world, and even those in their own world over at the United Nations, seems to think that an atomic armed Iran is a very bad idea, indeed. But still … personally … I can’t say. After all, I am not privy to national security briefings. I am not in on the behind the scenes international disucssions. Of course, those high-minded alderman are at least as clueless as I am. But ignorance may not be enough to stop them if making the Chicago City Council one of the few municipal governments in America … nay … in the world … with a foreign policy. (Neighboring Evanston has a similarly afflicted city council, as I have noted in previous blogs. Maybe its the fluoride in the local water.)

This is not the first time the Chicago legislators went down this road. About six years ago, they passed a similar resolution forbidding George Bush and the United States Congress from toppling Saddam Hussein. You can see how much the opinion of Chicago aldermen means in Washington. Needless to say, this new foray into foreign policy will garner about the same amount of attention in the nation’s capital.

I hate to disagree with the Mayor, but I think these war room decisions of the City Council may be the silliest things they ever did. If not the silliest, then certainly the most useless.

In the meantime, the Chicago Transit Authority is crumbling. The schools are producing more drop outs than graduates. Innocent people are being murdered at an alarming rate. The city faces a monumental budget crisis. The once sacrosanct parks are being auctioned off to the highest bidders. “The city that works” can’t even fill pot holes.

But thanks to the City Council, the social elite will again nibble on their fancy goose liver paste, and Iran can rest easier knowing that U.S. troop are being held at bay by civic action.

>REACT: Children’s museum or mausoleum?

>Even after 9/11, I have not been one to cower in fear. On the other hand, it is prudent to take whatever precautions seem reasonable.

I was reminded of this when officials of the Chicago Children’s Museum announced a new location for the facility. They would move it from Navy Pier to the north edge of Grant Park, near the Harris Theatre and Millennium Park.

Given the congestion in that area, and the Chicago tradition not to clutter the park (as Daniel Burnham advised), my initial reaction was negative. Seems to me that there are a lot better locations for this very excellent museum.

These concerns pale when you consider that the new site is just a bomb’s throw away form the Aon Building – an edifice that law enforcement officials often designate Chicago’s second mostly like terrorist target. The first is the Sears Tower, of course.

Gads! Had those good folks at the Museum even given this a thought? I think not, or the proposed location would have been eliminated at the onset. Fortunately, it is not to late.

I know. I know. The likelihood of a devastating attack on the Aon Building maybe be rather low. Maybe. Not sure how to even calculate that. But, it doesn’t matter. In a worse case scenario, Aon is close enough to come down on the Museum like a sledgehammer. Mayor Daley, himself, believes that section of the city has potential as a terrorist target. He said so when he demolished Meigs Field. Look at how the Aon Building has been fortified and security pumped up dramatically since 9/11. The Aon folks obviously recognize the danger. Since there is no compelling reason to put the Children’s Museum at what could be Chicago’s ground zero, why take any risk at all. Like I said, there are plenty of even better places to put it.

You may recall in my blog item of September 21, 2007, I proposed that the Museum be put on the south end of Grant Park, where there are no serious terrorist targets. But hey, that’s only my opinion. I am sure the Mayor and the people at the Museum can come up with any number of better, and safer, locations than in the shadow of that Aon Building.

Least you think I am making too much of the terrorist thing, let me tell you. My family was living in the Loop on 9/11. I still vividly recall the high anxiety (you might even say terror) my wife and I felt as we raced to retrieve our son from his school near the Sears Tower – even as we listened to news accounts (inaccurate, thank God) of a possible hijacked jet liner flying towards Chicago’s tallest building. It is not the kind of experience one forgets, and I see no reason to put other parents needlessly in that situation – ever.

I hope the good people in charge of relocating the Museum will not be so ego committed to their plan so as to put the children in harm’s way. Chicago’s children need a first-class museum, not a childen’s mausoleum.

>REACT: Daley in the dark … again!

>Once again, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has issued his standard excuse. “I know nunttin’.” This time it has to do with his son’s investment in a company doing big business with the City of Chicago – well doing big business AFTER the Daley boy and his wheeler-dealer cousin bought into the company.

Hizzoner said his son had a lapse in judgment, and he (the Mayor) wishes his son had not invested in a company doing business with the city. Then the Mayor got weepy as he confessed that he loved his son – and that is about the only thing the tight-lipped Mayor was about to confess. He answered no other questions. Not sure why loving your son trumps the son’s actions. I am sure Papa Capone loved his son too. (Relax, I am not comparing Patrick Daley to Al Capone, only make a point that a father’s love does not exonerate bad behavior.)

All in all, the Mayor sounded pretty convincing, and I really want to believe the guy. However, something just does not seem right. It is also hard to believe that the Mayor’s son did not discuss it with dad, or that no city officials tip off the Mayor that his son was into some questionable deal.

First, if the Mayor’s alibi is valid then young Patrick Daley was sleazing behind his old man’s back. I mean, the kid is savvy enough to know exactly what he was doing – taking advantage of insider information and clout. If Patrick did not know it was wrong, or even wondered, he would have gone straight to his dad to talk about.

Furthermore, if the Mayor intended to do a sincere mea culpa on behalf of his son, he would laid forth the results of his investigation into the matter– even if the investigation was only asking his son, “What in the hell did you do?” That leaves three possibilities. The Mayor did not care to share the information he had garnered with the press and public. He did not inquire because he did not want to know. Or, he knew about it all along.

I think the taxpaying public has a right to know how much was invested. How much profit did Patrick make on the sale of his interest? Who did he sell it to? How did the company get the contracts? Did Daley family members do any contacting of city officials to promote the contract? Why were the Daley family names left off the legally required applications? If the Mayor does not care to get the answers, I suspect U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald might.