Friday, May 6, 2022

Time to embrace ‘Our Lori’

     What if we’re stuck with Lori Lightfoot?
     Not just for another year, but for another term. Would it really be so bad?
     Let’s think this through.
     Like you, I was hoping one of the usual suspects — Paul Vallas, Mike Quigley — would come charging into the mayor’s race, someone significant we could get excited about. And no, Willie Wilson tossing away fistfuls of cash doesn’t count.
     But each potential savior took a long look at our churning municipal disaster, then fled.
     Another kick to prostrate Chicago: a city so broken nobody even wants to run it.
     Except Lightfoot, though yes, she goes about the task with the determined cringe of a cat owner squeegeeing up a particularly voluminous pool from a hardwood floor.
     Can you blame her? Why would anybody want to be mayor of Chicago? It’s an impossible job.
     Do you remember a successful, popular mayor? Me neither.
     Do those two traits even go together? Effectiveness and popularity seem inverse qualities. Jane Byrne was a hot mess with no idea what she was doing. Yet Chicagoans were fond of her ... why? Personal style. Panache.
     That’s what makes a mayor beloved. People embraced Harold Washington whether he got anything done or not. Richard J. Daley was so hated we forget how loved he was by the bungalow belt, who kept pictures of him in their living rooms, like he was the pope. All they ask is that the mayor reflect their own person. Then they can extend the blanket approval they give themselves.
     Do Chicagoans have to like their mayor? Not really. Rahm Emanuel was an abrasive jerk. But he created the Riverwalk, a cool addition to downtown. Many folks didn’t particularly like Richie Daley, an entitled princeling brought up behind the high walls of his Bridgeport purdah. He hurt Chicago, giving away the parking meters, the Skyway and bus stops in ludicrously bad deals.
     But the Bean! And Millennium Park! All is forgiven.
     That’s what Lightfoot needs. I reached out to her office to inquire what kind of glittering bauble the mayor plans to bestow upon the city in gratitude for her second term. The answer filtered back — it isn’t like she’d talk to me — to the effect that she looks with pride at the progress she’s made in each of Chicago’s 77 distinct communities.
     See? That’s so Lori, I glanced over my shoulder, expecting a laugh track, the canned “Oh Lori!” groan.

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  1. I voted for her & it was a total mistake!
    She has no idea what to do, hired an incompetent as police chief, solely because he's black, who has proven to be totally out of his depth here, as crime is out of control, especially downtown & on the L.
    She gets into stupid idiotic fights with everyone.
    She just chose the second worst place for the casino, plus there's no explanation about what will happen to the Trib printing plant, which also prints the Sun-Times, NY Times & Wall St. Journal. Previous articles have said the Trib has a lease until next year with the option for a ten year renewal, so how does this casino abrogate that lease & option? Only the One Central foolishness was worse!

    1. So, Clark St., does that mean that you wish you'd voted for the *other* candidate in the mayoral election, the one you liked to call Taxwinkle, if I recall?

    2. No, I wish Vallas had made the runoff.

  2. This column offers a nice, friendly perspective, but as a disappointed Lightfoot voter, 3 years seems like a pretty generous amount of time to wait for her to grow into the job. If she could stick her foot in her mouth every *other* time, instead of every time, that might be a start! (I exaggerate, of course, but she does seem like her own worst enemy.)

    By no means does the Bean, swell as it is, mean "all is forgiven" when it comes to Daley II. Why I just paid $9.50 to a private company in order to park on a Chicago street today...

  3. I lived through the reign of Daley the Elder. I was not quite eight when he was elected, and I was 29 when he died. That, of course, means I lived through '68. I eagerly and willingly participated in the Battle of Chicago, so don't get me started on him. Chicago was the City That Worked under Richard I...unless you were brown or black. Or progressive.

    Bilandic was a sad sack and a puppet, Janie was a joke, and Harold...well, he coulda been somebody. He coulda been around for years...but while the people embraced him, he embraced plate after plate of barbecued ribs...until he finally keeled over and died. Sawyer was a footnote. I emigrated to now-red (deep red) Ahia in the early years of Richard II, but only after having voted for him.

    And what the hey...I lived long enough to see a Jewish mayor in Chicago...something that outspoken anti-Semitic Irishman and ex-cop, Eddie Burke, predicted would never, ever happen. I lived in Chicagoland, as the Trib used to call it, for 36 years. So I can safely say...and from personal experience...that Chicago's Irish and Chicago's Jews have never been close friends. We're not like New Yorkers..too much shepherd's pie here to be fought-over.

    I've.been gone for thirty years I really can't say much about the shape Chicago is in now...or about Lori Lightfoot. Black, female, and gay...that's all I know about her...and that she got 73% of the vote. Otherwise, she is an enigma to me. A mystery. A question mark.

    I do miss many things about the city of my birth, but not everything. To paraphrase Neil Diamond yet again: Cleveland's fine, but it ain't home...Chicago's home, but it ain't mine no more. And too much of what was my Chicago is now long gone.


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