Monday, May 23, 2011

Signs are such a non-issue

I must confess. I get my kick out of seeing out-of-date signs remaining in place – giving us some physical evidence of what once was, but is no longer.

Seeing Rod Blagojevich’s name remain as “Illinois governor” painted in giant letters on the side of the Illinois International Port District building down near Lake Calumet gives me a chuckle, while I have always smiled a bit throughout the years at the site of the sign atop the old Allerton Hotel.

YOU KNOW THE one I’m referring to – the one that promotes their luxury lounge, the “Tip Top Tap” that closed for business way back in 1961.

Which is why it might very well be in character for all those signs that tout “Richard M. Daley” as Chicago mayor to remain in place. Yet I can’t help but think this is an incident where pure pettiness is prevailing.

I want to see all those “Daley” signs go.

What is at stake is the fact that on the very day that Rahm Emanuel became mayor, crews were out removing some of the signs that identified Daley as the city’s chief executive and replaced them with signs letting people entering Chicago know that there’s a new “sheriff” in these parts.

ALTOUGH IF CIRCUMSTANCES had gone just a bit differently, there is a chance that our new “sheriff” could literally have been the old sheriff – we could have had Mayor Tom Dart!

I suppose some people wish THIS sign were still in place.

Back to the signs, which managed to tick off certain elements of our society who wanted to proclaim that installing such new signs was a waste of taxpayer funds. Figures as high as $500,000 have been touted as the dollar amount that could have gone to some other worthwhile expense – had certain people not felt the need to assuage Emanuel’s ego.

Emanuel himself, seeing the chance for negative publicity on his first day as mayor, went ahead and signed an order that put a halt to the sign replacement.

I don’t know how far along those crews got in terms of sign replacement. But it is likely that some signs remain (although I haven’t seen any yet) that tell us we still have a “Mayor Daley.”

WHO’S TO SAY how long it will take us to realize that this is a petty non-issue, and that the people who were complaining ought to have been ignored. So we may have evidence of “Mayor Daley” remaining for some time.

I’d hope that the “Mayor Daley” signs don’t last for so long that they wind up competing with the “Tip Top Tap” and those faded signs near State and Randolph streets that still promote the Boston Store (which closed in Chicago back in 1948).

But when it comes to giving in to political whiners, anything is possible.

What bothers me is that I really think this is a non-issue because the kind of people who get all worked up over a new government official making the small gestures that let the public know of his (or her) presence are usually the ones who backed an opponent in the last election cycle.

WHICH MEANS I see this issue as one of sore losers who are complaining because they don’t want physical evidence of the fact that their preferred candidate lost.

Maybe they think that if there are no signs touting “Mayor Emanuel,” then it really didn’t happen. Which makes me think these people are living in some sort of fantasy land. I’d rather not be having our government give in to people who can’t accept the “real” world.

It’s bad enough that we have many people who let their refusal to accept the last presidential election cycle dictate their rhetoric and actions toward the federal government these days.

I’d rather not see some local version of  nasty Rahm-bo rhetoric taking hold in our home city.

FOR THOSE WHO are going to respond to me with messages that try to tell me this is an economic issue, I’d say that’s nonsense.

I really think the amount of money being used for this gesture is miniscule. The idea that some worthy program will take a major financial hit because there is now a “Mayor Emanuel welcomes you to Chicago” sign (or some variation of that phrase) is absurd.

Saving less than $1 million in order to please somebody who can’t handle the fact that Emanuel won the mayoral election without having to endure a run-off election seems to me to be silly.

And as for those people who like the idea of Gov. Pat Quinn using his business cards that identify him as “lieutenant governor” with the former portion crossed out, I’d say that merely makes Pat look like a cheapskate.

YOU PROBABLY LIKE the idea of Quinn staying at “Motel 6” hotels and think that his special club card is somehow still legitimate (apparently, it’s a long-expired savings program).

Actually, I can only think of one possible benefit to keeping the “Mayor Daley” signs – and then only if you are of the type who anxiously await the day a decade or two from now when a third-generation Daley family member decides he (or she) wants to run for public office.

Perhaps we could follow Quinn’s lead and merely cross out the first name, with “Mayor ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ Daley" being turned into a fill-in-the-blank.


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