Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fat chance!

It’s the dream of any journalist who has worked his way to a point where he (or she) can express opinion and have a voice – something I write actually motivates somebody in authority to take a specific action.

Yet there are other times when a columnist or commentator (or an ever-anonymous editorial writer using the political pull of his particular newspaper) takes a stance that will create only one reaction – hysterical laughter.

THOSE ARE THE times when we take a stance that we know there is no chance that the people in power will go along with. If anything, they will use it as an example of how out of touch we writers are with the way things work.

What we’re usually trying to express is the way we think things should work, in hopes that we could motivate voters to dump on certain elected officials for taking such a hard-line stance in the opposite direction.

That has been the motivation behind some of the commentaries I have written and published at this site. And it obviously is the motivation behind editorials published Tuesday by two of the daily newspapers based in the Chicago suburbs.

For I don’t envision Cook County Board President Todd Stroger reading the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, finishing their editorial, and coming to the conclusion, “They’re right. I am a liability. I should drop out of the Democratic primary.” IN FACT, I’D think there’s a better chance that the Times of Northwest Indiana, a Munster, Ind.-based newspaper, would have a better chance of persuading Mayor Richard M. Daley, if he read their Tuesday editorial that says Chicago should give up all talk of opening a casino within the city limits, on the grounds that Lake County, Ind., needs it more.
Which is to say that I seriously could envision Stroger and Daley getting together on Tuesday to compare editorials, to see which one they think has less of an understanding of the City Hall mentality (which pervades into the other half of the building used by Cook County government).

Like I said, these are cases of editorial writers attempting to use what influence they have to get people worked up against Stroger and Daley.

In the case of Stroger, that editorial was written more for those northwest suburban people who are the base of the Stroger opposition that will be determined to see him defeated in the Feb. 2 Democratic primary.

IF BY CHANCE he somehow survives that primary, they will come after him with everything they’ve got in the November 2010 general election. There are times I wonder if they’re more interested in dumping Stroger than they are getting a Republican elected as Illinois governor or U.S. senator?

They want to put the idea into peoples’ heads that Stroger could decide to just walk away, and that he is somehow politically (as well as personally) defective for not using such an option.

So when he remains on the ballot, his very existence will be considered a character issue. It is cheap. It is petty. But it may very well be effective in terms of stirring up opposition from some people who might otherwise wind up apathetic and decide to stay at home, rather than go out to the polls and vote for, “Anyone But Todd!”

What of the other long-shot editorial, the one related to casinos in Chicago?

IN THE INTEREST of disclosure, I should admit that I do some work for the Times of Northwest Indiana, although I have never had anything to do with the newspaper’s editorial page. Nor have I ever met the editorial page editor.

So the first indication I had that this issue would come up was when I read the editorial in the newspaper (for some reason, the editorial page portion of the website was not updated) Tuesday morning.

I agree with the overall stance, but not for the reason the newspaper advocates.

The idea that an Indiana-based newspaper would take the stance of what is good for their particular county, rather than what would benefit the entire Chicago metropolitan area (which stretches into Indiana at that point) is predictable. It is parochial.

BUT WHEN IT comes to the long-expressed desires of Daley to have casinos of some form in the city, I have always thought that small-minded.

I always thought that Chicago’s greatness gave it access to opportunities (such as hosting an Olympic games) on a scale that most municipalities (even some significantly large ones like Cleveland or Detroit) can only dream of.

So why do we have a mayor who is so eager to take on an idea that was created by the Illinois Legislature to benefit obscure towns along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers that can’t come up with anything better on their own?

For that matter, they’re probably better suited to a deteriorated city such as Gary, Ind., where local officials want to move the licenses that allow for gambling boats on Lake Michigan to a land-based site just off Interstate 80/94 (which would give very easy access to gamblers from Chicago).

SO WHEN THE newspaper writes, “Chicago should build on its strengths, not sap the strength of its surrounding area,” I can chuckle along with the mayor and his proponents, who will dismiss the idea as just Hoosiers being overly parochial.

But when one thinks about it logically, shouldn’t it really be the mayor getting chuckled at for expending so much energy throughout the years on a money-making mechanism that was intended for places such as Metropolis (Pop. 6,540)?

Who’s really thinking like a rube?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Stroger needs to go! This editorial is more about making people upset ( that he won’t go away, than trying to sway the Son of John himself.

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