Saturday, July 5, 2014

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Ought to be much about nothing

The fact that 33rd Ward Alderman Deborah Mell is getting divorced ought to be the ultimate ho-hum attempt at a news story; something that comes across as cheap and petty even for an Independence Day holiday weekend.

But Mell’s recent announcement, which she made via her Twitter account, that her marriage of three years has come to an end is gaining attention. To the point where I’m wondering how many petty people are going to try to draw this out into something it’s not.

WHAT CAPTURES ATTENTION about this marriage was the fact that Mell’s wife was Christin Baker. The couple became engaged in 2010 (with Mell, then a state representative, making a pronouncement on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives).

Then, because they couldn’t wait for Illinois to get its act together on the issue of legitimate marriage for gay couples, they went to Iowa to be married.

If they had held out for an Illinois wedding, it wouldn’t have occurred until earlier this year – perhaps during the past month.

But then, it would have been too late. For the couple seems to have irreconcilable differences. News accounts indicate Baker has taken a new job in Birmingham, Ala. They have split.

I’M SURE SOME people are going to rant and rage against gay marriage and claim this ought to be evidence that such unions are somehow unnatural and unlasting.

Which is nonsense, of course. Just look at the number of so-called straight couples who can’t make it past a couple of years of marriage. Was their time together any less legitimate? If it was, perhaps we ought to be abolishing the concept of marriage altogether.

Not that anybody with sense is calling for that. If anything, all this means is that partnerships and pairings are fragile and filled with potential for problems. The last thing those couples need are harassment from those with such ideological hang-ups that they need to get a hobby. Perhaps they can rush out to Hobby Lobby to find something to do from people inclined to share their hang-ups about life?

What else is notable about life following Independence Day on the shores of Lake Michigan?

COP BUDDIES STICKING TOGETHER?: The Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling this week that upholds the ability of one-time Pullman Area Violent Crimes Commander Jon Burge to keep his pension – even though he’s the cop who led the far South Side unit that reportedly was beating confessions out of criminal suspects on a regular basis.

Burge, 66, and retired for more than two decades, is now in a federal correctional center in North Carolina. But for the act of perjury in a lawsuit related to his actions; not for the actions themselves.

The state’s high court ruled that a Cook County judge was correct to prevent the Illinois attorney general’s office from intervening in the case when a police pension board upheld Burge’s retirement payments.

It seems the board members who were former police officers favored Burge, saying his criminal act came after he left the police. They out-voted the non-former police officer members who would have revoked retirement benefits.

DON’T YOU DARE CUT RETIREE PENSIONS: It’s going to be interesting to see just how officials are capable of reforming the way public pension programs are funded.

For the state Supreme Court also ruled this week that retirees can’t be forced to pay for the retirement benefits previously promised.

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan is claiming that’s a narrow legal issue, but others see it as broader and a move in the direction of saying that there’s going to have to be some other form of reform. Either that, or the retirees literally will bankrupt Illinois government into oblivion.

As if Friday night fireworks didn’t give you enough of a headache.

BAD ATTITUDES IN BRIDGEVIEW?: The Chicago Fire professional soccer team felt compelled to issue a statement this week, telling their fans to watch their mouths.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Spanish-speaking fans have taken to using slurs for homosexuals to taunt opposing players. Before you start attacking Latinos, keep in mind that some peoples’ extent of the Spanish language are the slurs and obscenities.

Which bothers the team because they want people to make the trek out to their suburban Bridgeview stadium to watch games – particularly in the weeks following the World Cup.

Perhaps hoping that some newly-converted types will want to see live matches and will want to spend money, much money, while at Toyota Park.


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