Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Weighing ‘the soul of Chicago’

Photo for the Sun-Times by Ashlee Rezin

     “The soul of Chicago.”
     An easy enough phrase to toss out. It’s emblazoned on Willie Wilson T-shirts: “Restoring the Soul of Chicago.” Only $31.67.
     Brand new mayor Brandon Johnson also invoked the soul of Chicago, in his inauguration address Monday, repeatedly, seriously. So it seems worthy of serious consideration.
     What is the soul of Chicago?
     Johnson began his exploration by suggesting the soul of Chicago is a general human condition, like opposable thumbs. The soul of Chicago, he said, is “alive and well in each and every one of us here today.”
     Unless he meant just the people in the room. I hope he wasn’t implying that the soul of Chicago is a thing possessed only by those who’d go out of their way to see him inaugurated in person. If that’s the case, it’s going to be a long four years.
     Besides, Johnson immediately opened the category up to “the Miami, the Sauk, the Potawatomi, who lived on this land for centuries.”
     Hmmm. I see how mentioning Native Americans helps Johnson check off a box. But the Potawatomi war-danced out of town in 1835. A proud heritage, for certain. But if they are the soul of Chicago, today, then why are all these buildings here? I don’t think Johnson is saying the true heart of Chicago is the dispossessed, the exiled. The city does sometimes seem headed in that direction. I hope the soul of Chicago isn’t something that gets driven to Arizona.

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  1. Johnson is a fool, who wants to bring back the reviled head tax, tax expensive home sales & tax the trades at the commodity exchanges.
    The stupid head tax drove companies out of the city, taxing expensive home sales will end the sales & people will come up with ways to avoid it.
    The tax on commodity trades can't happen without the state legislature allowing it, but since they are a totally electronic system now, they can move anywhere in the country or even the world.
    In short, Johnson is a fool, a crackpot extreme left wing ideologue, who will destroy the city's business community!

    1. I was tempted to use that as the headline, but figured I ought to save it for another day.

  2. Uh, not too concerned with the people of Moline, are we? Since my peeps on both sides hail from the QC area, this worries me a bit; for much like Illinois wouldn't prosper without Chicago, Chicago won't prosper without Illinois.

    The soul of Chicago is mean spirited, indeed.

    1. Don't leap to take insult, Mike. I mentioned Moline because I was recently in Moline, researching a story. The place to be, if you want to spend your life manufacturing combines. If you want to, say, become an actor, you might want to move to Chicago. That's all I meant.

    2. No insult taken. Just have a lot of good memories of Moline stored up and kinda bristled.

  3. I am getting tired of ad hominem insults as a mode of political discourse. Raising taxes or lowering taxes may be a good idea or a bad idea in the circumstances, but it is a legitimate political response. It does not make a person a crackpot. In any case, all this freaking road construction is killing downtown as much as anything.

  4. Does Chuy Garcia, in a reflective moment, regret not jumping in earlier? He had a very good chance of being elected. Or is he glad that he avoided a nearly impossible job?
    Suggestion for Johnson; get some great minds together to adddress the $30 billion+ in unfunded city pension liability. Read Martire's article in February 22 SunTimes.

  5. Coming from a small southern city that has lower taxes I can’t help but think that how much better my home would be with higher taxes. If you think there are police, education, infrastructure, and public transportation problems here, take a look at how bad all of those are where I live.
    Johnson will have to make concessions to big business to get anything done but that’s the way things are done in this country. I believe his heart is genuinely in the right place. Even a slight improvement after four years would be great.


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