Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Should Tribune join SI cover in jinx?

It sits on newsstands across the Chicago metro area, mocking us.

I’m referring to copies of Sports Illustrated, with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the Chicago Bears. “BRING ON THE PACKERS” is the screaming headline, along with a subhead about the Bears’ anticipated trip to the Super Bowl.

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of Monday, we know how ludicrous this cover is. The Bears lost. They got beat by “their old rivals,” and the potential we had for a good ol’-fashioned Chicago/New York brawl (Bears versus Jets in the Super Bowl) is gone. The National Football League championship for this season will go to either Pittsburgh, or Green Bay, Wis.

It sounds like quite a letdown. Which is pretty much what I’m starting to feel about the election cycle for Chicago mayor, which on Monday gave political observers quite a body block when the mayoral aspirations of Rahm Emanuel got knocked off the ballot.

Unless Emanuel finds the Supreme courts of either Illinois or the United States willing to intervene on his behalf, he’s not going to be a candidate.

The potential of a national political figure with significant clout to the White House becoming Chicago city government’s chief executive (the equivalent of a Chicago versus New York Super Bowl) is wavering – and could soon be something that “never was.”

YES, A PART of me thinks of a purely local mayoral campaign between Carol Moseley-Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins as being a political equivalent of that Pittsburgh/Green Bay faceoff for a football championship.

It sounds so dinky by comparison.

There’s even a political equivalent to the Sports Illustrated cover. Because it was just last week Friday that the Chicago Tribune gave us the poll results claiming Emanuel’s campaign has support from 44 percent of would-be voters – with signs indicating that his support among various groups is on the rise.

“Mother Tribune” dared to put in our minds the thought that there wouldn’t be an April 5 runoff election – that Emanuel could actually win the whole thing come Feb. 22.

NOW, ON THE very next day of business, Emanuel is gone. That front page must seem like a taunt to the people who haven’t yet recycled it, similar to how that magazine cover seems like a cruel joke.

The Chicago Bears as Super Bowl champs. Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The former ain’t gonna happen any time soon, and the latter may also be just as dead.

Admittedly, there is still a bit of life in the idea of Emanuel for mayor. The sports analogy may well be to compare Emanuel to the Bears’ performance on Sunday, in that the Bears did put up a serious threat in that fourth quarter.

HAD A COUPLE of things broken just a bit differently, that game would have ended regulation time in a tie. Football fans (of which, in all honesty, I’m not one) will forever ponder as to whether the Bears could have won the game – IF it had gone into overtime.

Which means we’re going to get to see whether or not Emanuel is any more successful in pulling off a late maneuver that restores him to the ballot. Because it is that late in the process – which may well have been the strategy all along of Burt Odelson, the Evergreen Park-based attorney who specializes in election law and has been the lead instigator of the effort to remove Rahm from the mayoral ballot.

I couldn’t help but notice that he told WBBM-AM radio that the appeals court ruling surprised him – he expected it would be the state Supreme Court that would rule in his favor; meaning he’d win at the very end and there just wouldn’t be any time left for Emanuel to put up a serious legal fight to restore himself.

As it is, this next step before the Supreme courts is going to have to be rushed through this week. For the early voting centers start letting people cast ballots next week Monday.

EVEN IF THE Supreme courts put the rush on their proceedings (which they are capable of doing), it creates a situation where ballots are prepared at the very last minute – which means a rush job. Invariably, that causes problems and confusion at the polling places.

So now we have to see how the Supreme courts rule, and whether they will be willing to give any credence to the dissenting opinion of Appellate Justice Bettina E. Lampkin – who was the one judge to rule against booting Emanuel from the ballot.

She says that the burden of proof should have been on Odelson to show that Emanuel made his Washington house his permanent residence, which she says he did not.

“The candidate never voted in Washington, D.C., never changed his driver’s license to Washington, D.C., never registered his car in Washington, D.C., never purchased property in Washington, D.C. (the house was rented), never conducted personal banking in Washington, D.C., and never demonstrated an intent to sell his Chicago home,” she wrote in her dissent.

SO WILL THE Supreme Court of Illinois (which I will predict will hold a Friday morning hearing at the high court in Springfield, with a ruling issued late that afternoon) rule for Rahm (who filed a request Monday night for an emergency hearing), giving him a last-minute victory unlike the Bears?

Or will we forevermore wonder whose defeat (the Bears or Emanuel) was the bigger shock to Chicagoans?


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