Monday, April 6, 2015

Chicago's mayoral cat in a box

     This is a moment to savor.
     Monday, the day before Chicago's mayoral election.
     The forces of Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Cook County Commissioner, are energized, enthusiastic, confident they're going to pull off an historic victory.
     Or so they claim.
     And Rahm Emanuel, the powerful mayor, far ahead in the polls, saturating the airwaves with his millions in campaign cash, cruising to victory, while at the same time wiser for having had to break a sweat to keep his job.
     Or so he claims.
     Both scenarios true, or at least possible, for a few more hours.
     The physicist's son in me wants to evoke Schrodinger's cat, the famous quantum mechanics thought experiment, which postulates a cat sealed in a box with a vial of poison that may or may not have broken, the cat thus being, the strange logic runs, both alive and dead until you look into the box.
     That's the state of Chicago politics right now. We exist in a city where both scenarios are treated as inevitable, where Emanual and Garcia have both won and both not won.
     On Tuesday, Chicago looks inside the box and finds out.
     What will we see? I try not to traffic in the obvious. Let's just say whenever there is talk of a Garcia victory, I hear the voice of Sydney Greenstreet, as Signor Ferrari, "Casablanca's" fat, fez-wearing club owner, in my head: "It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles."
     The newspaperman in me wouldn't mind a Chuy victory, just for its pure drama. The surprise, the civic joy. Democracy in action. The eyes of the nation transfixed on Chicago. The boost it would give a segment of the population who have not yet taken their proper seat at the table of government. That would be the good part. Then the bad part would come. Power hates a vacuum. With Chuy Garcia wandering the 5th floor of City Hall, looking for the washroom, the City Council roars to life with a snarl. Springfield, which has already told Chicago to go pound salt, will become even more intransigent. So a vote for Chuy Garcia becomes a vote for Ed Burke and Mike Madigan.
     To me, that's a dead cat.
     Sure, there is a depressing, we-can't-go-to-the-circus-because-we-have-to-stay-home-and-do-chores aspect to an Emanuel victory, not just for his abrasive personality, but for his clear-eyed view of Chicago's terrifying, complicated economic problems which are literally against the law to solve. What fun is that? Garcia prefers to talk like he's living in fantasyland: 1,000 new cops paid for with change dug out of city sofas, every school kept open with money earned by putting on a play in the City Hall basement. He either hasn't looked hard at the situation, or doesn't understand, or is just lying.
     Look at the closing of 49 schools, the central crime laid at the mayor's feet. If you think the mayor closed them because he doesn't care about kids, then sure, vote for Chuy Garcia. But if you think, "The city's broke. The schools were half empty. The kids transferred to schools as good as or better," well, vote for Rahm Emanuel.
     Garcia says he would have held more hearings, talked to more parents before closing those schools. Which sounds great, until you think about it. Held more hearings, talked to more parents until ... what? He found the parents who wanted to close their own schools? Who wanted their kids to walk the extra five blocks to a different school? He was never going to find those parents. Someone had to come in and ram the change through. To make the unpopular choices. That's what a mayor is for.
     Enough bickering. Time to open the box and look inside.


  1. Yawn. We all know that Garcia is a mess. Chicago is a stinking joke. 25 cents of EVERY state tax dollar pays for a pension. Ha ha ha. Even Ferris Bueller's creator couldn't create such a joke.

    Run, don't walk away. Rahm wins. Merry FEEZIN' Christmas. You still live in a steel cold city. That people are fleeing from. Check the stats. You are losing population, not to mention cash.

  2. What? You are telling me that a quarter of our tax-paying lives are paying for yesterday? Next, you'll tell me that the CTA Laborer Union is somehow connected with the Cook County Forest Preserve District and that millions of workers game the system to get a pension at age 55? And that Illinois is set to EXPLODE with a 39 percent paid pension system? Someone cut all Human Services!!!! HA HA.

    So the pensioners pay ZERO in state income taxes, Madigan laughs, and "Chuey" says, "Me no like Star Wars." You deserve the government you elect.

  3. To the above:

    Yes, and no.

    Illinois is gaining population, but at a rate less that the national average. Illinois loses more college students at the university-level than it schools. Meaning, more 4-year college kids leave for an education than stay in-state. Chicago proper loses people every year, in real terms, since M. Monroe. Why stay in Chicagoland? The hot dogs? Yikes.

    The state is destroying itself. WTF is with property taxes? Rich kids get the best, the rest, F-off.
    Lake Michigan is a cess pool of radon and Gary, Ind. pollution. Rahm sends his kids to private schools. Even Neil lives in an ultral-vanilla suburb. What rhymes with segregation?

    Neil says he does not go south of 59th Street... one wonders why the Sun-Times is about done. Who pays for dead trees? Poor types and those who wrap fish. Oh well. Rahm wins. Raise Crook County taxes, the pension! Haha!

  4. I have had enough of Chicago-basing! I like being Vitamin-D deficient.
    I will not leave. I like black folk being kept on the South Side, I like a 120-year-old El, and please, more taxes. Rahm came back from the Clinton White House and quickly told us our schools sucked, and we that Rahm would continue 49-1 votes in the City Council.

    What the hell is a "pension" anyway? My daddy's daddy worked for the city and so do we.
    You mean no one actually can pay out EIGHTY PERCENT of the last four years, al la teacher pensions? And my CURRENT CPS and especially DuPage (make that Glenbard, N., E., S.) English teacher with 10 years experience isn't worth the 85,000 thousand dollar salary and 2 million in promised pension? Hahaha. Indiana is due East. Fly the friendly skies.

  5. Listen, Illinois has the tollways. And Bartlett. Stay for the winters. They last all summer.

  6. Stop! I moved to Illinois because it has the MOST levels of (units) of local government. I love to hear abut Neil's travails on the Metra, sometime he rides the Divvy! Screw budgets and whatever cHUY has or has not voted on at the County Board. I love that O'Hare is a backwards disaster, may the Blue Line forever continue to crash into the baggage claims.

    And people love the Cubs,. It is all there is in Chicago. Forget real city parks for office workers, trains that run on time, or gasp, term limits. No. Neil forever. I love to read about a new coffee flavor at the Wrapposports/Chinese, Inc. owners at Sun-Times, Inc.

  7. This is too much. Are you telling me that 17,400 state workers live in Springfield and that there is not one national park in the entire state of Illinois?

    You mean Senate Prez Cullerton's chief of staff is now a state senator? You mean Mell's alderkid is in the state legislature too?

    Next, you'll tell me that IL lawmakers conduct business from private e-mail addresses?
    Maggie Daley Park is very nice when lit up by gun-fire.

    And I like Oak Park. Especially when the homeless throw up on me there. The Green line makes sense, same color as the barf.

  8. I am just glad Stateville prison is following 1880 guidelines for the insane and throw-away types. I love a good hell-hole. Especially one that sucks the soul outta thousands and does it in a 19th century manner. No soup for you!

  9. Listen, if people knew that ex-guv Georg Ryan is NOW as we speak in 2013 collecting checks from Illinois State University on the taxpayer's dimes -- make that hundreds of dollars -- the taxpayer would move. Ex-Guv Ryan would never get a gubmit check to speak to uni kids in 2013 at Bloomington-Normal.....opps.

    Miracles happen.

  10. Boy, SOMEBODY has a case of the Mondays around here! Look, Anonymous, don't you have a page 2 column to write over at the Tribune?

    I voted for Rahm and I'm proud of it. The people who are pissed off at him are the people I want to be pissed off at him.

    1. "don't you have a page 2 column to write over at the Tribune?" Ding, ding, ding... We have a winner!

    2. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. This is why the page 2 column is so listless, all the energy goes into anonymous comments on the Internet.

  11. I think we know why Neil likes Rahm so much, not that Chuy is that great.

    1. Bigots tend to speak in the third person plural, in an unconscious attempt to dragoon decent people into their camp. No, we don't know, tell us your theory about why I like Rahm "so much" and point out the part of the column that strikes you as reflecting an outsized like.

    2. I didn't say you were wild about him, but you do prefer him for mayor. Why?

      cause he speaks for the affluent, like you

      not the blue collar worker

    3. although I know you can't vote for him since you live in a fancy suburban area

      how does this make me a bigot?

    4. I like your colleague's , Laura Wash. column today. She reminds us how elitist, arrogant and bad tempered Rahm is when you disagree. I feel sorry for that repoter Ahern. She should have pushed his hand and said get it out of my face. I feel sorry for his wife. He's a bully.

      I don't care for those who get nasty when you disagree with them. He reminds me of something.

    5. Laura did a good job. As for that other crack, I think it depends on the form of the disagreement, not the content.

    6. She would have done a better job if she had acknowledged that Rahm himself objected to that line of questioning as "inappropriate" after the moderator started pushing Chuy on it. On the occasion cited in her column, Emanuel certainly could have handled it in a more gentlemanly fashion, but the reporter was pushing him to answer a "no win" question. However he had answered it would have led to a negative headline.

      Tom Evans

  12. Boy! A lot of hard feelings this morning.

    Schrodinger's cat also makes an appearance in Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. A brief appearance.


  13. Can't help myself, Neil Greenstreet!

    April 6: "What will we see? I try not to traffic in the obvious. Let's just say ... 'the Germans have outlawed miracles.'"

    February 24: "Election Day in Chicago. And while I frown on augury, I can't imagine, despite a strong showing by the identity politics and crush-the-machine Occupy elements of the city, that Rahm Emanuel doesn't walk away with a second term easily, avoiding a bothersome run-off, which he would surely win, in April."

    And, not that I believe that it portends a winning result for Chuy, but, of course, Victor Laszlo DID get out of Casablanca. : )

  14. I did have that thought as well. No metaphor is perfect.

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  16. Wow, just saw some tv local news. I thought Wrigley was being renovated. The lines for the men's room were an hour long on Sunday? Bet the bastard billionaire Ricketts and his family didn't have to worry about that in his sky box. Glad I'm not a sucker cub fan.

    And Rahm got a campaign donation from that billionaire who dumped his wife and from super rich Reinsdorg, oh yeah, he's in touch with the common people. I'll be sure to vote for him.

  17. Him and his uber rich bro hollyweird agent making deals, no thanks. Wearing the sweaters won't feel my family or I.

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