Thursday, February 2, 2012

We’re not there, yet

Government bodies of all types have their moments when they dwell on things that the general public could care less about.
SUFFREDIN: Speaks a rare truth

Take the Cook County Board, which on Wednesday met for a few hours and spent quite a bit of time reviewing resolutions meant to pay tribute to a new brigadier general from Chicago and a former staffer with the assessor’s office who recently died.

THEY EVEN HAVE their humorous moments – such as when county board President Toni Preckwinkle had a slip of the tongue and inadvertently referred to Commissioner John Daley from the South Side as “Mayor Daley.”

Not that I’m saying Wednesday’s meeting was anything exceptional. If anything, it was a typical gathering of government officials trying to do “the people’s business.” You have to be an insider to care about 90 percent of it.

Which is what makes it all the more special when a government official manages to say or do something that hits upon an essential truth. It becomes a little gem amidst the blather that occupies too much of the time of most government business.

Take Commissioner Larry Suffredin of north suburban Evanston, who managed to say something so incredibly honest that it will stand in my mind for a long time – even though it didn’t relate in any way to anything that was likely to get covered in the newspapers or on broadcast news programs.

FOR WHEN THE county board felt the need to pass a resolution praising the idea of February being African-American History Month, Suffredin felt the need to say that passing mere resolutions isn’t enough.

“When we pass these kind of proposals, it is incumbent upon us to reach out and tell people we still have a lot to do,” he said.

How true!

Too many people seem to want to think that “the war’s over” and now we can go back to the way things were. The “war” being the fight for any sense of equality or elimination of laws that are meant to keep certain people in check.

SUFFREDIN HIMSELF CITED the recent study by the Manhattan Institute that found traces of segregation that still remain, and that there are neighborhoods where non-white people remain either under-represented or over-represented.

Although the modern day reality of our society is that there are few lily-white communities that still exist – and the ones that do are usually in places so isolated that one can make the argument that they are cut off from the majority of the population.
DALEY: President, Mayor, or brother?

In short, it takes a lot of effort for someone with segregationist sensibilities to truly cut themselves off. But it doesn’t mean by any means the fight is over – which too many people seem to want to believe.

So to hear something from a public official like Suffredin is encouraging – even though his comments will get overshadowed (the “official” story from the county board on Wednesday was their decision to have their Finance Committee study further the situation at the Cook County morgue – where the bodies have been piling up high in recent weeks). This account here may well be the only recognition of what happened.

JUST AS I’M sure I may also be the only one to acknowledge Preckwinkle’s gaffe – which caused Daley to sigh and everybody else in the county board chambers to laugh vigorously.

For as Daley (the brother of the retired hizzoner) himself said, he often gets people describing him in just the wrong way.

“The other day, I was called both ‘president’ and ‘Bill Daley’,” said John – as though he was the esteemed Barack Obama, or his other political brother (the returned-to-Chicago White House chief of staff).


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