Saturday, October 22, 2011

Everybody smile. Look happy, & don’t drive the knife too far into his back

I’m still trying to figure out what is the most hilarious part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appearance with Gov. Pat Quinn and union leaders on Friday at McCormick Place.
EMANUEL: Keeping them closer

Could it be the fact that Emanuel managed to “play nice” with at least one set of organized labor leaders, just a day after the state of Illinois dumped all over his school reform plans by siding with the Chicago Teachers Union?

OR IS IT the fact that we had Emanuel and Quinn standing side by side, pretending to be pleased with each other even though the governor himself seems to have dumped all over Emanuel’s desires to get a casino in Chicago – sooner, rather than later.

Watching the famed “Rahm-bo” having to be nice in public with people whom he’d probably rather dump in a ditch did nothing more than remind me of that old “The Godfather” line – “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

Should the Teamsters and carpenters unions, along with the governor himself, be watching their backs these days, wondering if/when Emanuel will come up with the equivalent of cement shoes for them to wear?

It’s just my guess, but I’d bet that Emanuel these days is most upset with the Chicago Teachers Union – a body that he has spent the past couple of months demonizing because they won’t just willingly go along with his desires for a longer school day.

THOSE TEACHERS HAVE the nerve to think they should be compensated for any extra time they do on the job, and that Emanuel should have negotiated any change with tem than thinking he could just impose it automatically.

At least that’s the way Emanuel (and all those ideologues who like to dump on organized labor any chance they can get) want to view the issue. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board took a different, and perhaps more reasonable, viewpoint.
QUINN: Watching his back?

They voted 5-0 on Thursday to seek an injunction, which would prevent Emanuel from implementing such a change (adding 90 minutes to each school day, to be exact) any time this school year.

Which means Emanuel will have to sit down and talk to people like Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union. After having spent the past couple of months being dumped upon, those teachers are likely to up their demands in exchange for supporting any changes in the school day.

SO HOW SINCERE was Emanuel on Friday in offering up support to the unions that represent the employees who work at the McCormick Place convention center? I wish I could have been close enough to hear what he was muttering under his breath – or through his clenched teeth and he smiled and boasted of the significance of the agreement that was reached concerning the convention center’s work rules.

Admittedly, there have been those who argue that the rules are so strict (trained union electricians required to plug in displays to a wall socket?!!) that they drive up costs of Chicago conventions and cause the shift to places such as Las Vegas, Nev., or Orlando, Fla.

Ignoring the fact that many convention-goers don’t really want to explore the cities they visit, and just want a simple attraction near their hotel. Perhaps a nearby casino could fill that bill.

Except that Quinn did his business, so to speak, all over that desire by saying he’s prepared to use his veto power to kill off the bill, which had speculation about possibly as many as three bills being introduced in coming days to try to impose some sort of expanded gambling opportunities across Illinois.

EMANUEL HAS ALWAYS wanted this goal – which is one that Richard M. Daley also wanted during his two-plus decades as mayor but could never achieve. But Quinn thinks the General Assembly got carried away with creating gambling opportunities, particularly with all those slot machines at places like race tracks and airports.

That is what caused Quinn to actually show some backbone and stand up to the casino backers, who just have such a different way of viewing the issue that there probably is no way to ever close the gap.

As one of those legislators who backs the casino proposal told me this week, Quinn is viewing the issue the “wrong” way. He sees it for all the potential for problems that can arise from gambling, instead of seeing it for the benefits that it can bring.

Those benefits being the portion of the gross receipts that Illinois and the municipalities that host such casinos can charge them as a tax. And at a time when many governments (including Illinois state and Chicago city) are struggling to meet their expenses, that is just too much of a consideration to ignore.

WHICH TO MY mindset sounds too much like saying that having morals is only acceptable when times are going good. Times of struggle can’t afford anything like morality.

It also means Quinn may have scored some moral bonus points on this one issue. Yet I can’t help but wonder what the political payback will be for Quinn, and how long it will be before Emanuel starts thinking about how “cold” his “revenge” should be.


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