Sunday, January 25, 2015

Banks finally makes it to Daley Plaza

Somewhere in another realm of existence, John Hoellen is either smiling, or laughing his head off.

Hoellen is an alderman from long ago remembered because he was one of the few people who would publicly say when he believed Mayor Daley (as in the old man Daley, not the son of more recent years) was “full of it” on various issues.

OF COURSE, HOELLEN was often the lone Republican serving in the City Council during his time in public service. So being a malcontent to the majority came naturally.

Why am I bringing up Hoellen now?

It is because he came to my mind when I learned Sunday of the intent by city officials to pay tribute to one-time Chicago Cubs ballplayer and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks by putting his statue in Daley Plaza. Literally, the statue that has been outside of Wrigley Field for the past seven years will be moved this week to outside of the county courthouse that has the famed Picasso statue. Banks died Friday night following a heart attack.

Anybody who knows their local history remembers that many local people initially didn’t like that Picasso statue. It looked freakish. What is it? There are still people who can’t tell you what it is supposed to represent.

HOELLEN WAS THE public official who was so critical of Pablo Picasso’s design that he said city officials should have erected a statue of Ernie Banks instead, if they wanted to capture the true Chicago spirit.

Now I don’t know if I agree with that sentiment. In fact, I remember Hoellen from my reporting days with the now-defunct City News Bureau – at one point, I covered the Chicago Transit Authority and Hoellen was the board member who could always be counted on to complain (often for legitimate reasons) about what the majority of the CTA board wanted to do.

Personally, I think the Picasso statue is so unique and gives our city a distinct monument outside the building where so many lawsuits get resolved – and across the street where our city and Cook County politicos continue to concoct so many deals that aren’t necessarily in the public interest.

But for a four-day period, at least, people will be able to show up to pay their tributes to Ernie Banks. Hoellen’s vision, or lack thereof, gets to come true.

THEY’LL BE ABLE to go on and on about how we should all “play two” today and whine about how it’s a shame that Banks never got a chance to show his stuff in a World Series OR be alive to toss out the ceremonial 'first pitch' at their fantasized Cubs World Series in 2015.

While all those pigeons who converge on Daley Plaza regularly will be able to do their business, so to speak, all over Ernie’s image. It’s too bad they couldn’t aim for the political people located across the street.


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