Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Straight from the Blagojevich playbook

Samuel Johnson
Like the mayor, I sometimes cite quotations.
     For instance, a reader will occasionally write in, just baffled by one of my columns. What do I mean by “religion should be voluntary”? That’s craaaaa-zeeee. Maybe I could explain it to him, take his hand and walk him through it?
     In such cases, I try to hurry silently on, but sometimes pause to share my favorite quote from the great dictionary writer and wit, Samuel Johnson: “Sir, I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”
     I can’t tell if that does anything for the reader; but it makes me feel better. And, more to the point, it is relevant, a way of saying, “The column is clear enough, bub. Figure it out. Or don’t.”
     That cannot be said for Brandon Johnson’s reply when asked Monday about his firing of Chicago’s diligent health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, without the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting, or even of telling her himself on the phone. An underling did the deed, late Friday. A question was posed: What about that, Mr. Mayor?
     “You can’t always go by the things that you hear. Right? ‘Real eyes realize real lies,’” Johnson replied, quoting Tupac Shakur.
     So a follow-up question: What the heck does that mean? What are you saying? That the question is premised on a lie? Then Awardy still has her job? Was she not fired? Did the mayor indeed give her the sort of respectful termination that might, oh, I don’t know, encourage another highly skilled health professional to agree to replace her? Someone the city will desperately need as COVID rates rise and God-knows what new nightmare Hot Zone plague is at this very moment dripping out of a bat’s backside somewhere, heading to a rendezvous at O’Hare International Airport and then every block of the city of Chicago?

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  1. To quite modern sage Pete Townshend, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

  2. I'm afraid the we in the city are in for a long four years with an absolute incompetent fool for mayor.
    It was bad enough that he attacked the media & his own cops when they said the looting of the 7-11 on Roosevelt was a mob action & he said they were wrong, it was just misunderstood youths, but his firing Arwady on the orders from his bosses at the rotten to the core teachers union is just appalling!
    Then he appoints as her temporary [hopefully] successor, a guy who isn't an MD & has zero public health credentials.
    I have a sick feeling he's going to be worse than Lightfoot & that's really bad for all of us & the city!

  3. I'd been trying to cut him some slack, but his treatment of Dr. Arwady is very disturbing.

  4. Let's not forget Aaron Schock quoting T-Swift about his Downton Abbey office - "Haters gonna hate."

  5. Yes, his treatment of Arwady is at the very least Unprofessional. At the same time it is his prerogative. We all knew his connections to the teachers union when we elected him and shouldn't be shocked that he on ceremoniously kicked someone to the curb who was at odds with the teachers union in her handling of various aspects of the pandemic response.

    Dr. Arwady while doing a good job in a difficult situation does not deserve a coronation.
    Nor does mayor Johnson deserve to be compared to the likes of the convicted felon who tried to sell Barack Obama's senate seat.
    I just don't see the correlation even with mayor Johnson's Tupac quote not withstanding. Some consider Tupac the greatest hip hop artist of all time. Much more well-known than Samuel Johnson. That's for sure and certainly more current

    1. Wilbur, I believe Mr Ed would be more believable than you!

    2. Nope. The WAY the mayor dismissed Arwady speaks directly to Johnson's leadership style, and not in a good way. He placed politics ahead of public health. He left the health dept without leadership and damaged Chicago's chances of hiring an equally qualified replacement. Terminating Arwady was his choice. So was his manner of dismissal. He chose disrepespectfulness and unkindness, which was unnecessary. If he thought this would reflect a leader who easily makes "tough decisions", he was wrong. It has made me wary of Mayor Johnson, and I am not alone in that perception.

    3. "Much more well-known than Samuel Johnson." That depends on where you're from and where you're standing. Check back again in another decade or two.

  6. The city is doomed. Like Gotham, it will devolve into a chaotic maelstrom that no Dark Knight can rescue while those in high towers reap the benefits of incompetent government and a lopsided tax code. ”What people do for the struggle of power is madness” -Tupac

    1. Gotham is a pretend city. New York is fine.

  7. A good column and it needed telling.

  8. @Wilbur; Tupac is NOT more well known than Samuel Johnson. Talk about your myopic comments...

  9. Are you familiar with the 2010 film, "The Other Guys," with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg?
    In it, their Captain is played by Michael Keaton, who constantly uses quotes from TLC songs without realizing it.
    If it hit me, I wouldn't know a TLC song, but it's very funny.
    Here's an example below:

    Terry Hoitz: There's one case, one case in a career where you go all in. This is it.
    Captain Gene Mauch: All right. Then you do us proud. 'Cause I don't want no scrubs.
    Allen Gamble: Really?
    Captain Gene Mauch: No.
    Allen Gamble: You're not aware that's a TLC song?
    Captain Gene Mauch: I have no idea what you're talking about.
    Allen Gamble: It's the second time.
    Terry Hoitz: You said chasing waterfalls, now you're saying you don't want no scrubs.
    Captain Gene Mauch: I don't even understand the reference.
    Allen Gamble: It's like a tic.
    Captain Gene Mauch: I have no idea what you're talking about.

    1. You mean you learned to dance sarcastically?

  10. Neil has nailed it. I didn't realize it until now, but Brandon Johnson is absolutely the new Rod. As Johnson begins to do things like this, I wish the media in general would acknowledge that it would have been difficult for anybody to win by less acclaim. Instead, immediately afterward and still, we still hear about Johnson winning as if he achieved some kind of landslide--I leave Neil out of this, I hasten to add!

    Most Chicagoans did not vote for Johnson in any sense of the word, starting with the sliver of people old enough to vote who actually do. The most recent figure I could see was from a Cook County Treasurer's report covering 2011-2020. In 2020, there were 2,143,207 potential voters and only 575,985 did so--26.90%. For the 2023 mayoral election in February with 15 candidates, per the Chicago Board of Elections, there were 1,581,564 registered voters, and 566,973 votes cast--35.85%. The run-off in April was similar. So a sliver of a sliver of the potential voters voted.

    Of course, these numbers are always miserable, not just for Brandon Johnson's election. But Johnson's lack of any conceivable mandate is clear from the relative numbers in his elections too. In the February general, 21.63% voted for Johnson and 32.90% for Vallas, the candidates who made it to the April run-off. Ultimately in the run-off, Johnson got 52.16% versus 47.84% for Vallas. One way to consider that is only a 2.16% majority of the tiny fraction of people who vote favored Johnson. If the numbers were reversed, we could say the same of Vallas.

    Still, Johnson's election is just not any kind of commentary on how many Chicagoans favored him or his policies, espoused or not. But to the extent that people did favor Johnson, let's remember he spent both elections claiming he would not be a puppet for the CTU. I don't know why anybody would have believed that, since he was still on their payroll, but that's what he claimed.

  11. Yep, it's not like it wasn't pretty clear that he'd have a hard time distancing himself a bit from the teacher's union. But, as somebody who voted for him, I at least thought he was going to try not to be so blatant. This was an important instance that would be seen as indicative of his attitude, and he had 3 months to figure out how to do it properly. Wilbur calls his handling of Arwady "unprofessional," which it was. More interestingly to me, given the mayor's rhetoric, it was also unchristian. He could still have let her go after meeting with her and giving her a chance for a farewell with her staff. We've come to expect rude behavior from Trump; I had hoped for better from the new mayor. (Though, to be clear, I think she should have been retained.)

    There's not a whole lot of text on the main page of his campaign website, but there is this: "As the son of a pastor, and one of ten children, I am grateful to my parents for teaching us to work together, to sacrifice, and most important, to serve.
    They taught me to abide by the golden rule, treating others the way you want to be treated."

  12. i'm afraid i'm not joining in on all this hand wringing from a slightly different prospective. many years ago i spent a few years on a mayoral staff (Harold) and i've also had a few other government gigs, so i see this little set-to as a fairly normal occurrence, especially how the end game played out. by that i mean the very public lobbying, both by her and others for her to keep the job, when all the evidence pointed to her Not keeping it. i would have viewed it as unseemly and a naked attempt to embarrass the mayor and would have said "all bets are off, you owe her nothing after this, show her the fucking door".
    now i should add the typical "full disclosure" disclaimer here. I voted for johnson in the runoff, albeit because he was Not Vallas. i told several friends in around the political realm that it would take an inexperienced guy like him 6 months just to find the fucking bathrooms at city hall, much less understand the complexities of the job. so far, nothing has happened to prove me wrong, having watched him step on the rake several times in the past few weeks, however, on this one, i fall on his side. and he's still Not Vallas
    paul waterhouse
    roscoe village

  13. Mr. Johnson is going to make many hiring and firings. He's not going to get all of them right. If he gets the Police Chief right this one will be forgotten before Halloween. The previous mayor certainly didn't get the Police Chief hire even close to being right. So now she's off to Havard teaching a leadership class? Sounds like a joke but says quite a bit about Harvard.

  14. Every employee, from the lowest rank on up, deserves the courtesy of hearing from their immediate supervisor re: job evaluations and/or terminations. It's not just business etiquette or professionalism, it's human decency. I have worked in the public sector. I disagree w/ Paul W that this is 'a normal occurrence' in governmental settings, but perhaps it happens more often there than in other settings.
    Jill A


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