Tuesday, December 23, 2014

EXTRA: No wonder Rahm wants Willie off the mayoral ballot

There’s a Catholic school affiliated with St. Florian parish in the Hegewisch neighborhood that has been struggling with its finances to avoid being closed.

Now, it seems one of the mayoral hopefuls has a desire to be the person who ensures the school stays open.

THE CANDIDATE IS Willie Wilson, an African-American man who has managed to work his way to a fortune and likes to make charitable contributions to causes he deems worthy. Which is totally within his right to do so.

So, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper, Wilson planned to visit St. Florian Tuesday night with a $5,000 check – the amount that their fundraising drive fell short of the desired goal.

The school was among those slated by the Archdiocese last year to be closed, with church officials citing declining enrollment causing shortfalls in funding. The school remains open because local residents have worked aggressively to raise money to cover the budgetary shortfall.

This year, the goal was to raise $60,000, with the Big Shoulders Fund kicking in $25,000 and local efforts coming up with about $30,000.

WILSON WAS TO show up at the school Tuesday night with a personal check to make up the difference.

But Wilson also is one of the nine people who are trying to run for mayor in the Feb. 24 elections. Is this the kind of move meant to build goodwill that might actually persuade some of those Hegewisch residents to get off their duffs come Election Day and cast ballots for Willie?

It certainly can’t hurt!

Anyone who has been paying attention knows the Wilson name because he is one of the candidates who is having his ballot slot challenged. Most of those candidates are truly fringe who have next to no shot of getting more than 1 percent of the vote.

BUT WILSON, WHO began his business ventures by running McDonald’s franchises on the South Side and expanding into more substantial efforts throughout the years, differs because he has the kind of money to self-fund a serious campaign – if he so wishes.

If you want to believe that Wilson is too much of a no-name to take seriously, consider that Bruce Rauner was equally a political nobody before he started kicking in the dozens of millions of dollars to buy himself just the right image that enabled him to win the governor’s elections held last month.

Could Wilson become the African-American equivalent of Rauner? Not if Emanuel’s political loyalists are capable of kicking him off the ballot.

Now I’m not implying there’s anything illegal about Wilson’s contribution. It’s his money, and I’m sure there’s no specific agreement that people will be required to vote for him in exchange for the contribution.

BUT YOU HAVE to admit, that’s a lot of goodwill that will be stirred up from Hegewisch residents to whom the thought of sending their kids to Washington School (in the Chicago Public School system) is absolutely abhorrent!

Which could also make it some of the most practically-spent money of this campaign cycle.


No comments: