Thursday, February 28, 2019

What kind of ‘first’ are we going to see come the April 2 run-off election?

It’s the angle we’re being played over and over again with regards to Chicago’s municipal elections; the Second City is going to get a black woman elected as our mayor – regardless of who manages to prevail in the April 2 run-off.
The way we'll remember Tuesday. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
It’s true! Both Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, who came in first and second amongst the 14 candidates running for mayor on Tuesday, qualify as African-Americans of the female persuasion.

WE’VE NEVER HAD that particular combination amongst our city’s mayors. Although we’ve had two black men as mayors and one woman, so I’m sure there will be some people who claim it’s wrong to make a big deal out of this particular mixture.

Of course, it’s very likely that people expressing this attitude are of the belief that picking the “best qualified” person to be mayor invariably means going with a white man.

For all I know, the people most bothered by the ongoing emphasis about a black woman being elected are the ones who also are pointing out how William Daley (with his 14.69 percent, third place finish) would have actually finished first if the 7.3 percent of the vote cast for Jerry Joyce had actually gone to Bill.

We’d have the likelihood of Daley III as mayor, with Preckwinkle reduced to third and the constant speculation about how it was her ties to embattled alderman Edward M. Burke who took her down to mayoral defeat.

I KNOW SOME are getting excited about the prospects of having a black person in the mayor’s office at City Hall. Some even like the notion of Lightfoot being lesbian and in a gay marriage. Something for everyone to pick from when they go about making a choice for mayor in the run-off election.
Did Joyce decide electoral outcome in unintended way?

But I have to admit, I think the fact that they’re women plays more of a factor into determining the strengths of each candidate.

Because in looking at the city ward maps that detail which candidates did best in each ward, I couldn’t help but notice the strong resemblance between the voter support in majority-black wards that existed back in the days of Harold Washington and that exists now for the millionaire black candidate Willie Wilson.

I don’t doubt that people who made their choice Tuesday for a mayor based on the idea of having a black person in the mayor’s office ultimately decided against either Lightfoot or Preckwinkle and were amongst the 10.77 percent who liked the idea of Wilson’s charitable cash hand-outs to the less-fortunate.

WHILE MUCH OF Lightfoot’s support seems to come in the wards that comprise the north lakefront. With Preckwinkle being predominant in the south lakefront wards.

Could this come down to something of a baseball-themed election run-off? With Lori getting the backing of Cubs fans, with Toni getting the preference of Chicagoans who realize that “real” baseball is played by the White Sox?
How weak was Latino vote? Mendoza lost … 

It might well be that the historical figure we ought to be paying attention to is that of Jane Byrne – who served her one term as mayor from 1979-83 and who was the woman who campaigned on the idea that she was going to smash “the Machine,” but wound up making her accommodations with it in order to survive politically.

Which could mean that this election cycle will most likely be decided by those individuals who went into Tuesday’s voting casting ballots for either Daley or Joyce. In short, the people who probably have their hang-ups about what is happening.

WILL THIS ELECTION wind up being decided by how many of THOSE people decide they can’t bring themselves to vote for either Lightfoot or Preckwinkle? Thereby allowing their existing support to remain significant?
… but Burke didn't

Or will this really become an election cycle decided by people casting their ballots while pinching their noses shut at the very thought of what they’re doing?

Personally, I’m somewhat saddened by the 9.02 percent voter support that Susana Mendoza’s mayoral bid received. If anything, I’d consider a “first Latina” mayor a more significant achievement than the one we’re going to get. But that will have to be a goal for a future election cycle, since we're still in an era where Mendoza couldn't win -- but Ed Burke as alderman could with 53.8 percent voter support in a ward that is about 80 percent Latino.

And I’m also amused by the 6.23 percent support achieved by candidate Gery Chico – with much of it crammed into the 10th Ward (my own birthplace and home of many of my cousins and other relatives); making it the lone ward in Chicago that thought the one-time Chicago Education Board President would make a fit mayor for our city.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kinzinger finds self cut off on ‘island’ alone with Trump on border wall

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of Congress from Channahon, wants to believe he’s with the “majority” in siding with President Donald Trump’s efforts to erect a barricade along the U.S./Mexico border.
KINZINGER: Picking sides on border

So I suspect he’s stunned to find out that there are people in positions of authority who think he’s behaving like, to put it bluntly, a twit for doing so.

THAT’S THE CASE these days, as Kinzinger the other day made a point of siding with Trump (sort of) on the issue of declaring an emergency status so as to allow him to use federal funds to erect the so-called ‘wall’ he’s eager to have built to create the image of Mexico as some alien place totally separate from U.S.

I say “sort of” because Kinzinger’s support for Trump was kind of lame. Almost as though he wishes he didn’t have to say anything publicly on the issue.

Because Kinzinger, when appearing this past weekend on the CBS “Face the Nation” program, said he won’t vote to block Trump’s wall talk.

As in he won’t side with the measure likely to get majority support in the House of Representatives to thwart Trump’s desires. It’s the measure offered up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kinzinger wouldn’t be inclined to support it.
EVERS: Took Wisconsin out of partisan mix

KINZINGER SERVES AS an Air National Guard member who recently got called up to active duty; and in fact finished a stint with his unit in Arizona to help local authorities in terms of patrolling the border region.

Yet his unit, which is based in Wisconsin, is no longer going to be part of border patrol efforts. For it seems that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued his own order recalling his state’s contribution to the border efforts.

The order was issued Monday, and Wisconsin’s troops will be returned home by Sunday. Kinzinger is probably thinking he and his Guard colleagues were “sold out” by their very own leadership.

Yet it’s more likely that Evers is simply more aware of the mood of Wisconsinites who’d rather not see their people and resources used to try to justify the “national emergency” that Trump is so desperate to want us to believe exists.
TRUMP: It's all about his ego, now

PARTICULARLY SINCE I suspect Trump’s real motivation for backing this whole idea is to see something built on his watch as president. As in “Trump, the Border Wall!” To go with all those ridiculously gauche hotels he’s had erected that bear his name.

Kinzinger has offered up defenses of Trump’s efforts at interfering with existing immigration policy. Although I can’t help but read those and think Kinzinger is actually offering up justifications for why we ought to think of Trump as a fraud on this issue.

Such as when he tells of how he was part of a crew that caught a man trying to cross the border into the United States with 70 pounds of methamphetamine. Which he used Twitter to ponder, “Wonder the damage that would do in Milwaukee.”

Except I see it as there wouldn’t be any need for that guy to try to bring such a substance into this country – if not for the fact he knows it will bring him big bucks. As in it’s people in this country already (the ones that Trump would try to claim are “real Americans”) who create the demand.

KINZINGER ALSO TOUTED the “coyotes” he helped capture (as in the people who help smuggle people into this country.
LINCOLN: Wiser words from Honest Abe

But if we had more rational immigration policies (as in not so concerned about keeping certain types of people from thinking they might belong in this country), the “coyotes” would be put out of business.

The Congressman also mentions helping to rescue a woman who was stranded in the desert that separates the United States and Mexico. Which is a noble purpose; although I suspect many of the ideologues who favor Trump and his border wall and immigration “tough talk” would have favored leaving the woman to suffer.

All of which means Kinzinger likely would have been better off keeping quiet on this particular issue. Because as Abraham Lincoln is said to have said, “It’s like when you remain silent people may doubt if you are a fool, but if you say something silly you will know for sure.”


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

EXTRA: Daley concedes; a fem win

William Daley conceded defeat late Tuesday, resulting in an apparent victory by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and one-time federal prosecutor and Chicago Police Board member Lori Lightfoot as the top two vote-getters for a mayoral run-off election to be held April 2.
THOMPSON: The Daley family winner

Some already are getting excited at the very thought that Chicago will have its first black woman as mayor -- regardless of who wins the run-off.

IT WILL BE interesting to see which of the two can prevail in a head-to-head political brawl.

Could it be Preckwinkle, who will get many of the people who were more establishment-minded and aren't anxious to see a grand shake-up of government by someone who doesn't really have any experience.

Or could it be Lightfoot, who will get the support of those people who think a grand shake-up of government is exactly what is needed.

I do have to admit one thing; it is good to see that all those dire predictions of not knowing the outcome for many days, if not weeks, failed to come true. Now we can move forward with an election process that will become a lot less confusing -- now that it's just mano a mano.

ALTHOUGH I'M SURE there are those who are saddened at the thought we're not getting another "Mayor Daley." Maybe they'll be remembering the fact that Richard M. himself lost his mayoral bid in 1983; but came back to win six years later (and we couldn't get him out of office for nearly a quarter of a century afterwards).

Either that, or maybe they'll take their pleasure from the political victory of William Daley's nephew, Patrick Daley Thompson, who continues to serve as the Bridgeport neighborhood's alderman.


EXTRA: A “first,” a last, and more of just the same – election day in Chicago

The vote tally is still taking place, and it’s not clear whether we’re going to have a chance at a third incarnation of a “Mayor Daley,” or if we’re going to get the city’s first black woman to hold the office of “Hizzoner.”
Daley III. Or not close enough?
Or “Heronner,” if we want to be strictly accurate about things.

TUESDAY WAS AN Election Day that threatened to have the lowest voter turnout ever for a mayoral election, and it was only because of a final surge at the end of the day at polling places that the turnout crept just above the 33 percent record that was set back in 2007.

That was the final re-election for Richard M. Daley, by which time many people were tired of the son of Richard J. So the trick was whether enough time had passed that another son of Richard J. might actually succeed.

After about two hours of ballot counting, William Daley’s mayoral campaign had 14.7 percent of the votes. Which in this election cycle with 14 candidates seeking the mayor’s office was good enough for third.

Or just close enough that he can’t qualify for an April 2 run-off election.

THE TOP TWO slots were being held by Toni Preckwinkle (16 percent of the vote) and Lori Lightfoot (at 17.4 percent). With votes in more than 200 precincts across the city still to be counted, it could still be possible for the one-time chief of staff to President Barack Obama could manage to creep into second place – and therefore be in the run-off for mayor.
Is Preckwinkle or Lightfoot (below) … 

But if things manage to stand as they already are, we’ll be facing a Preckwinkle/Lightfoot brawl.

Both of whom are black women, which would be a “first” for Chicago. Although I’m sure there are certain kinds of people who deliberately cast their ballots Tuesday in ways meant to prevent such a “first” from being achieved.
… more fitting of the character … 

It is kind of humorous the way this election cycle has shaped up. Preckwinkle was the one-time darling of those who considered themselves politically progressive, but now is regarded as just another political hack.

HOW ELSE TO describe a one-time alderman (albeit from the Hyde Park neighborhood) and county board president?
… of former Mayor Jane Byrne?

Whereas Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago Police Board. Not usually credentials that would gain anybody political support from people of progressive leanings.

But in this election cycle, some people seem so eager to vote for anybody who’s never held elective office before. As though we’re eager to have a political amateur in place.

Consider that some 52 percent of people who cast ballots actually voted for someone other than the three people who are dominating the vote. This really is an election cycle in which we, the electorate, couldn’t reach a consensus.
Chance the Rapper not enough for Enyia win

SO WE’LL LIKELY find out in coming days whether we have a chance at another “Mayor Daley,” or someone to remind us of the days of Jane Byrne’s mayoral stint. About the only thing we can say is that the influence of Chance the Rapper (who financially backed candidate Amara Enyia’s campaign) was only good for about 8 percent of the vote.

Which was good enough to top the 5.5 percent that one-time Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas managed to get in his mayoral bid.
Burke held against everyone but himself

But before you start to think that we’re in for total change, keep in mind the aldermanic races – where Edward M. Burke’s legal problems and his ties to so many political people were being blamed for the failure of candidates to finish strong. Even Preckwinkle supposedly didn’t finish first because of such ties.

But as for Burke himself? It seems he got re-elected without having to do a run-off – he got some 55 percent of the vote – even though his ward has developed an overwhelmingly Latino population and some were counting on that factor as being enough to dump Burke. It seems that voters will hold Burke against other people, while not hesitating to vote for the man himself!


Election Night could turn out to be an electoral educational experience

I’ll be the first to admit I pay far too much attention to the details by which we elect people to political office. But it still always manages to shock me a bit the degree to which the voters don’t truly comprehend the way our system works.
Signs like these will be in abundance on Tuesday

It takes the off-beat Election Nights in order to get people to see all the ways in which things can go haywire. And then, their usual reaction is to complain about how someone must be behaving corruptly.

IT CAN’T JUST be the complications of counting up all the ballots that the electorate manages to cast – as though they think we’re entitled to have an accurate computation of the ballots within minutes of the polls closing! Anything else must be the result of someone ‘cooking’ the books – most likely to benefit the corrupt ‘Machine’ candidates.

Even though the days of the old “Machine politics” in Chicago really is dead and buried. If things really were that rigidly controlled by the establishment, there’s no way we’d have 14 candidates running for mayor on Tuesday, and the potential for chaos that we could see.

What’s at stake is the fact that we have so many candidates and the likelihood that no one is going to take an overwhelming count of the vote in their favor.

Which means this is an election that will be so close, we’re likely to see absentee ballots – those people who fill out their form at home and send them in through the U.S. Postal Service to the Board of Elections – come into play.

ELECTIONS BOARD OFFICIALS admit some 63,000 such ballots have been requested, with only 26,000 of them having been sent back in by Monday.

That makes for some 37,000 people contemplating filing their ballot by mail, but literally waiting until the absolute last minute before submitting it. Which according to the law, is Tuesday. The ballots have to be put in the mail box in time so they can get a Tuesday, Feb. 26 post mark. Which means they won’t even be received by city officials until week’s end.

Or, if you’re in a particularly sarcastic mode of thought, some time next month – if the Postal Service lives up to its usual standards of pokey delivery time.
A touch of privacy, while ensuring poll watchers can see no illicit activity
Meaning it would be downright irresponsible for anybody to think that the election tallies available to be counted Tuesday night will be the final outcome. There’s bound to be a cluster of candidates crammed at the top of the vote tallies so as to make it unrealistic to say just who the Top Two vote getters will be.

YOU ALSO JUST know that whoever finishes third or fourth is bound to clutch to the belief that all the mail-in ballots will contain enough voter support to push them over the top and into the run-off election to be held April 2.

It’s going to be oh, so strange for those people who tune into a 9 p.m. television newscast Tuesday expecting to learn who won – only to be told it might be too close to call.

They won’t want to understand, because they’ve become too used to expecting Election Night results by then – with candidates making victory or concession speeches during the 9 p.m. hour, and thinking of anyone who refuses to make such a statement by then as being some sort of sore loser who just can’t face reality.

When the reality really is this can be a complex process to ensure that all votes are properly counted. It will take time. That could be the lesson of Election 2019 – just as Election 2000 was the one that made many of us realize just how easily it was for a ballot to be tampered with to the point of being uncountable.

REMEMBER ALL THE talk of “hanging chads?” And how repulsed the "W." Bush people were that they couldn't immediately celebrate their political victory -- trying concoct scenarios in which none-other-than Bill Daley himself was trying to stead a "win" away from them?

I still do, and must admit that what through me for a loop was that many people weren’t more fully aware of this. Just as I’m sure now many really expect all the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast ballots Tuesday can all be fully accounted for within an hour or two.
Just an example of the off-beat locations pressed into polling place duty
There is, however, one plus. If it really takes a couple of weeks before we can be sure exactly who won Tuesday and by how much, it’s going to mean that the run-off election is coming to come up on us right away.

There just won’t be that much time left for the two mayoral finalists to campaign against each other. As far as I’m concerned, that makes for few political cheap-shots and rhetorical attacks against each other – good riddance!


Monday, February 25, 2019

Chicago gets to see what real electoral competition looks like come Tuesday

Tuesday is Election Day, and we’re finally going to get a clue as to whom our city’s next mayor will be.
MENDOZA: A mayoral preference

This is a particularly unusual election cycle (“the most important election cycle in decades,” says the Chicago Tribune) in that we have real competitive candidates. We don’t have a clue as to who will win.

BECAUSE WE USUALLY GET a case of a frontrunner who is so clearly the establishment favorite running against another person or two – one of whom may be the choice of idealists but who really doesn’t have a chance of achieving political victory.

It’s almost like our municipal elections are a done deal before the candidates even file for slots on the ballot.

This time is different!

It’s all about the 14 candidates who are of varying levels of qualifications. I’m sure there are some people who think the real problem is that we’re letting just anybody get on the ballot, creating such a mass of candidates that even now, some people still don’t have a clue who they’ll vote for.

IT MAY WELL be that some people won’t make up their minds until they literally set foot in the voting booth. There also will be many who will make their choice – then wind up regretting it as the stupidest thing they ever did.
Will Cook Co. 'mayor' become 'Boss Toni?'

So who’s going to win? I really don’t have a clue.

I’m really not comfortable saying who the “top two” candidates will be who would qualify for an April 2 run-off election – which will have the feel of a more conventional election in that the number of choices are limited.

Even the pundit predictions are all over the place. I know I’ve already written that the campaigns of one-time White House chief of staff William Daley and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could wind up as the “top two” picks, creating a brawl giving an establishment and a progressive-leaning candidate a chance to face off.

BUT THEN AGAIN, this election fight could turn out to be so bizarre that the predictable top two will manage to fall short.
Could we get Mayor Daley III?

What happens if the candidacy of former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot manages to catch on just enough that she can overcome what some originally thought would be the inevitable ascension of Preckwinkle to the mayoral post?

Then again, there also once were people who thought that this would be a year of politically powerful women – with Preckwinkle and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza managing to create a historic brawl. While knocking the third coming of a “Mayor Daley” out of the race altogether.

We also have those people who think that Willie Wilson (who turned ownership of McDonald’s franchises in inner city neighborhoods into a financial fortune) is a colorful enough character that they’d like to see him remain in the running after Tuesday.

PERSONALLY, I’D BE inclined to support the Mendoza candidacy – in part as a gesture of increased political empowerment of the growing Latino population in Chicago. I think it would be an excellent “up yours” gesture for Chicago to pick her at a time when the supporters of this Age of Trump would want us to think that people of Latino ethnic origins (she’s of Mexican-American background) as the ultimate political losers.
LIGHTFOOT: Upset in the making?

We’ll see, however, what happens once the votes are counted Tuesday and we have to figure out how long it will take to count the absentee ballots to see if the election is so close that it literally will come down to counting EVERY SINGLE VOTE.

Something that I’m sure many political watchers in Chicago will find to be a bizarre experience. It ain’t supposed to be that close – they’ll think.

While they’re probably wondering why all municipal elections can’t be like the one for city clerk – where incumbent Anna Valencia managed to get all of her challengers knocked off the ballot outright!


Saturday, February 23, 2019

EXTRA: Where's Dr. Evil, just when we need him the absolute most?

Bond was set Saturday for R. Kelly at $1 million on the criminal charges he faces for supposedly sexually abusing four people -- including three underage girls.
Which made me continually think that Judge John Lyke, Jr., was internally doing his best impression of actor Michael Myers as Dr. Evil in setting the amount of money Kelly must come up with if he wants to avoid having to wait out his criminal trial as an inmate of the Cook County Jail.

FOR THE RECORD, Kelly must come up with 10 percent of that amount -- or $100,000 -- if he wants to remain free. It was not immediately known if Kelly would be able to do so. But it should be noted that Kelly doesn't suffer from the predicament of many people in the county jail; who are there because they CANNOT afford bond.

Kelly may well have recording industry officials who, out of a desire to keep him working, can come up with the kind of cash needed to ensure he doesn't have to resort to the bologna and cheese sandwich diet often served up to inmates at 26th and California.

For the record, Kelly's next court date will be March 8. If he does manage to post bond, must surrender his passport (in case he has fantasies of fleeing for Jamaica) and stay away from people under 18.


Have times changed to shift support away from R. Kelly’s alleged penchant for being too close to young girls?

I’m eager to see how the whole saga related to R&B singer R. Kelly plays out – will his celebrity status continue to make people think he’s somehow above the law and shouldn’t be punished?
Or has his time finally run out? Will he wind up facing legal consequences as a result of the criminal indictments he was hit with Friday – as a result of allegations that Kelly (who is 52) has a thing for girls aged roughly 16.

THE CHARGES OF aggravated criminal sexual assault for which he was hit were for incidents involving four females – three of whom were 16 or younger. His initial appearance in Cook County Circuit Court for a bond hearing is set for Saturday.

Now the reason I’m not yet convinced that anything significant will become of all this is because this isn’t even the first time Kelly has faced criminal charges related to his conduct with young girls.

It was back in 2008 when prosecutors pushed for charges, and he wound up going on trial for claims that his use of video cameras to record his activities amounted to child pornography.

He was acquitted for all those charges, and there were people back then who were more than willing to believe speculation that Kelly was being persecuted. Similar to the 2005 trial of “King of Pop” Michael Jackson – who was found not guilty of criminal charges claiming he had a “thing” for young boys.

THERE WERE PEOPLE more than willing to see their prosecution as petty acts by petty prosecutors who couldn’t handle the thought of a black person being successful.

It was true that during Kelly’s last criminal trial, the case ultimately fell apart when the girls who supposedly were molested were unwilling to confirm that anything improper was done to them.

So what will happen as this case works its way through the legal process?

There are some who think that activists with a focus on abuse against women will manage to prevail. We’ll see his behavior as so tacky that we’ll eagerly hope he gets found guilty of each count against him – with prison terms piled up consecutively.

THERE ARE THOSE who already are speculating on a 70-year prison term for R. Kelly – with just the slightest touch of disgust that probation is also an option.

Not that I’m counting on such an outcome occurring yet. Let’s not forget the recently-completed criminal trial of former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke. Remember the people who speculated on a pileup of sentences that could result it a 90-year-plus prison sentence?

And just what was it that Van Dyke ultimately got as punishment for the incident involving a 17-year-old being shot to death? A judge who figured out a way to give him a prison sentence that – when time off for good behavior is factored in – will come to just over three years served in prison somewhere.

There are those who think Van Dyke should suffer more. Will there be a outburst of anger from people eager to see Kelly suffer?

IT MOST DEFINITELY won’t be the same people. I suspect the kind of people anxious to see Van Dyke suffer will be the ones most likely to think that Kelly is somehow being persecuted.

It’s ultimately going to be a matter of how many people still have sympathetic memories of watching “Space Jam,” whose theme song “I Believe I Can Fly” was performed by Kelly. To the point where they can’t believe anybody connected through the film to basketball star Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny himself could do anything immoral.

The fact is that some people do have the ability to overlook fact, thinking of them as the sordid details that distract from truth – or at least truth as they want to view it.

We’ll have to wait and see just how much we’re willing to take a serious look at what has occurred here.


Friday, February 22, 2019

It’s Black History Month, and it has an anthem too many people don’t know

It’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” the just-over-a century-old poem set to music that first was intended to be a tribute to the memory of Abraham Lincoln but later became known as the “Negro National Anthem” – then later the black anthem after “negro” fell out of fashion.
The reporter-type person in me often hears the tune sung as part of the program at any type of black-oriented rally I cover, and it is a sweet little tune about people rising above the status in life that some in society would just as soon see them limited to.

BUT IT ALSO is so isolated within our culture. Way too often, non-black people don’t have a clue about the song.

I once recall an editor many years ago that there was “no such song” as the black anthem. He certainly had never heard of it.

Of course, I was equally as clueless. Although I remember as a kid hearing that there was some sort of song considered to be a “black anthem,” the first time I ever heard the song was an instance many years ago at the Cook County Jail.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was at the jail to give an inspirational talk to the inmates in hopes he could motivate them to get their lives straightened out and make something of themselves.

IT WAS QUITE a sense to be in a gymnasium within the jail and hear inmates singing along to the old gospel-inspired tune, although I don’t know how many of those inmates got the civil rights leader’s message and rehabilitated themselves.

It would be nice to think they did. But we’ll never know.

I most recently heard the tune (or at least a verse of it) this week when the Common Council of Gary, Ind., chose to start off their twice-monthly meeting Wednesday by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance – then singing the anthem.

'Anthem' started as part of Lincoln tribute
Considering that Gary has an overwhelming share of its population (84 percent) as African-American individuals, it shouldn’t be shocking. The ‘black anthem’ certainly wouldn’t be out of place.

ALTHOUGH I ALSO wonder in today’s overly-partisan political times how many people would think it somehow subversive that anybody would think to sing such a tune.

For all I know, the people who go around wearing those chintzy, red “Make America Great Again” caps are probably amongst those who try to deny that a ‘black anthem’ exists and that we’d all be better off forgetting there was ever a need for such a tune.

Particularly when one considers that several of the local government officials chose to wear African-inspired garb as part of a Black History Month tribute, I’m sure the site would have offended the sensibilities of some.

Mostly those whose political leanings are such that the real way to make this nation “Great Again” is to eliminate their very existence.

BUT I’M REALISTIC enough to know that such erasure from our society isn’t going to happen – and that the real advancement for the better is accepting the cultural differences that add a sense of variety to our masses.

Besides, the idea that the poem that inspired the tune was meant to be a part of the program of a Lincoln tribute is something that ought to motivate those of us in the “Land of Lincoln” to take the tune seriously.
It is a pleasant-enough melody that no one ought to be thinking of as an example of political subversion.

That is, unless you’re of the type who seriously venerates the memory of Jefferson Davis. In which case, you really do have some issues to confront about life.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Five more days ‘til we bring on the mass confusion we call Election Day

When it comes to the upcoming mayoral election Chicago faces, there’s only one prediction I feel comfortable about making – an overwhelming majority of the electorate is going to feel nothing but contempt with the outcome.
Our new mayor will be … ?

Tuesday is the day we will have the vote. With 14 people in the running and no one showing signs of taking overwhelming support, it’s ever so likely that no one will get a majority – which means we’ll have the “run-off” that will require Tuesday’s top two vote-getters to take each other on.

I’M NOT ABOUT to make a solid prediction about the victor. But I’ll say I won’t be surprised if the two candidates who qualify wind up with a combined tally of some 33 percent.

With some 67 percent people being those who didn't want either of the two to prevail, but couldn't agree amongst the remaining 12 candidates for any one of them to prevail.

The April 2 run-off could wind up something along the lines of the 2015 run-off, which was between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and now-Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., who basically kept the support he had during the initial election, with Emanuel managing to get the support of everyone else.

Or maybe it could be that many of the people who took the time to support someone like Lori Lightfoot, Susana Mendoza, Amara Enyia or Garry McCarthy will come to the conclusion they can’t back anybody else, and just won’t bother casting ballots in the April run-off.
Will McCarthy and Lightfoot (below) … 

THIS COULD EASILY be the municipal election cycle that has significant interest amongst the electorate, but winds up with a ridiculously-low voter turnout.

Which could mean four more years of listening to voters rant and rage about how “it’s not my fault” that Mayor Lamebrain managed to get elected which depending on the mindset of the particular voter, could wind up being used as a descriptive for just about anybody.

It could definitely be an interesting outcome for our municipal elections. It most definitely won’t be an election cycle that inspires the masses.

If there really will be a theme to the way people will cast their votes come Tuesday, it may be the idea that people will have to decide if we want a return to the days of a “Mayor Daley” in charge.
… be amongst top two on Tuesday?

AS IN AN establishment-oriented, business-motivated guy whose focus will be on the strengthening of the downtown business district. Keep “the Loop” strong, and it will hold up the city as a whole.

A concept that will offend those people who’d rather see enhanced investment in the neighborhoods, feeling that Chicago is only as strong as its weakest, most-vulnerable neighborhood.

More likely, we’re going to see that Chicagoans are split between these premises. Further reflected by the fact that no one candidate is dominating the polls and showing signs that they’re capable of taking a majority of support when people cast their ballots on Tuesday.

In fact, the real political tale of the near future may well be to see which of the 12 ‘losers’ manage to resurrect themselves for future elections – creating the impression that we’d have been better off picking them for mayor in ’19 so as to avoid the calamity they’re bound to claim the city will face by 2023.

ALTHOUGH THERE WAS one intriguing moment Tuesday when WTTW-TV conducted another candidate forum – one for the so-called lesser candidates in the running. The question: “Ketchup on a hot dog?”
FORD: Forevermore remembered for ketchup?

Candidate LaShawn Ford may well have killed himself politically when he said, “yes,” to which Lori Lightfoot responded to him, “There’s the exit. Never, never, never!”

As one who personally doesn’t put ketchup on anything I eat, I couldn’t help but admire Lightfoot’s enthusiastic retort.

Although sadly enough for the state representative from the West Side, his response may well be the only reason people remember his campaign – and why he’s likely to be the one who finishes 14th and last in the voter tally on Tuesday.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Friendly around political tables? At best, they manage to tolerate each other

Something I learned early on about dealing with government officials is that they really don’t like each other very much.
MENDOZA: Will she still be welcome at da Hall?
At best, they tolerate each other – particularly when there’s something to the advantage of the individual politicians. But they’re also quick to throw each other under the bus. People who think their government is a cohesive batch in cahoots with each other really are missing the point.

THAT CONCEPT COULDN’T have been made more obvious by anybody who happened to watch the WTTW-TV mayoral forum held earlier this week – the one in which Susana Mendoza, currently the Illinois state comptroller, made it clear she’s not all that united with her Democratic Party partisan colleagues.

Even though the Mendoza background is clearly one of somebody who managed to work her way through the legislative and City Hall ranks to get to her current position of running for mayor, she was quick to dump on everybody in sight.

Particularly that of mayoral opponent William Daley and his “first family” of Chicago politics.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the point in which Mendoza was vehemently lambasting the youngest of all the Daley sons for the infamous deal involving Chicago parking meters.
Mendoza managed to attack both William ... 
THE ONE IN which management of the downtown parking meters was leased off to a private company, which will operate them for 99 years. Meaning the city isn’t getting any of the proceeds from those ridiculously-high rates you pay every time you stick your credit cards into the modern devices that replaced the old parking meters you’d dump change into.

It was Mayor Richard M. Daley who negotiated that deal, which Mendoza openly accused brother Bill of having helped to put together.

“It was good business for your family, but it was terrible business for Chicagoans,” Mendoza shrieked. “That’s about as big a lie as you telling Chicagoans right now that you were not a key adviser to your brother during his key caretaker years as mayor.

… and Richard M. Daley
“Of course you were,” she said. Which may well be true, since the man who advised Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and served a stint as chief of staff to Barack Obama as president reached those levels because of his experience advising the family on electoral matters.

BUT FOR MENDOZA to come out so bluntly in making such an accusation was, to say the least, over-the-top.

Particularly because Mendoza is one who has become a part of the political establishment. Not the kind who spouts off the activist-type rhetoric about how corrupt everybody was.

This was the woman who, during the candidate forum, was called out for having her wedding ceremony officiated by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke – the spouse of long-time Alderman Edward M. Burke, who these days faces allegations from federal investigators of criminal behavior.
Mendoza takes her shots at Toni, … 

To which Mendoza offers up explanations of how she has had to work with various people in politics, even if she didn’t quite agree with everything they did or said.

IN ALL, IT means Mendoza likely is engaging in many acts of rhetorical suicide that will cost her political friendships and alliances. It’s kind of reminiscent of the 1992 election cycle between congressmen Bill Lipinski and Marty Russo – who used to regard themselves as close friends, until they got pitted against each other.

The politicking got personal, and the friendship withered away.
… while both are distancing self from Burke

Likely to happen this time between Mendoza and the Daleys, or the Burkes, or Toni Preckwinkle (who claimed this week she's never truly been allied with the Burkes) or countless other Democrats – whom, of course, the Republican ideologues will insist on saying are really in cahoots with each other.

Because spewing out trash talk about all Democrats being in a cabal with each other is easier for them to understand than the reality – that the egos and self-interest often cause them to dump all over each other in the most petty of political manners.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

EXTRA: No ‘Manny’ coming to Chi!

We’re one week into the baseball spring training camps, and the Chicago White Sox can put a rest to all the speculation of big-name, high-priced athletic talent coming to the Sout’ Side.
Not returning to American League anytime soon

Manny Machado, the third baseman who says he wants to be a shortstop along with one of the highest-paid players in baseball, chose on Tuesday to sign with the San Diego Padres.

DEPENDING ON THE reports one trusts, the White Sox had a bid of some $175 million spread out over seven seasons, that might have increased to eight or nine years.

Big money by baseball standards. But in the end, Machado got a late offer from San Diego that is for 10 seasons at a total of $300 million. An offer the White Sox weren’t willing to try to match – which has some fans already up in arms about the Pale Hose being nothing but cheapskates.

Although others are going on rants complaining that Machado used the White Sox during the negotiations process so as to get someone else to cough up the big bucks!

I’m willing to bet that when (because of the concept of inter-league play) the Padres have reason to come to Chicago to play the White Sox in future seasons, Manny is going to find himself the subject of the most intense heckling he could ever imagine. He’ll be amongst the most hated athletes on the South Side of Chicago.
These ballplayers more important … 

ALTHOUGH IT WOULDN’T shock me if Cubs fans wind up rooting for Manny big time out of spite for so publicly spurning the Sox.

Personally, Machado’s not coming to Chicago doesn’t bother me too much. It’s not like he single-handedly would have turned the White Sox into a contending ball club. The chances of a championship at Guaranteed Rate Field any time soon is still based on the rebuilding process and all the minor league talent that likely will make it to Chicago between now and 2021.
… to White Sox future champ chances … 

Eloy Jimenez, the .311 hitter the past few seasons in the minor leagues, could wind up being the big-name ballplayer for the Sox for 2019 – and the team will be able to get away with a major league-minimum salary ($535,000) for him.

In fact, without Machado, the White Sox this year will have a total payroll of some $80 million – which puts them in the bottom fifth of Major League Baseball.
… than Machado would have been

NOW I’M NOT talking cheapskate rhetoric here – I realize that any serious effort to turn the White Sox into contenders is going to result at some point in a serious expenditure of cash to boost the payroll.

I’m just not sure that this particular year was THE YEAR to be doing so. It could wind up that a future year would be the best time to make a serious expenditure.

The reality is that if the White Sox are to become a serious ball club worthy of championship consideration, it’s not going to be because of a free agent purchase. It’s going to be because the young talent matures to its highest potential.

It will be because Jimenez becomes as worthy at the major league level as he has been while playing since 2014 in the minor leagues. It will be because Yoan Moncada will live up to the promise he once had back when he was regarded as the best minor league ballplayer overall.
Will Sox repeat process for Mike Trout?

AND IT WILL be because Michael Kopech recovers from the rotator cuff surgery to his shoulder and shows that the couple of major league starts where he excelled in 2018 just prior to his injury weren’t a pure fluke.

The real question as far as the White Sox short-term is what will become of their newly-acquired ballplayers Yonder Alonso (who is Machado’s brother-in-law) and Jon Jay (a long-time personal friend of the two). The White Sox had acquired both in hopes that it would create an atmosphere that would make Machado think the Sout’ Side was truly place for him to be.

Now, they’re just going to be unpleasant memories about what could have been. I can’t help but wonder how quickly they’ll be thrown into some sort of trade by the ball club to erase the stink of their negotiating failure.

Which could mean many White Sox fans will be rooting for a 2021 World Series against the Padres – perhaps hoping that the Sox ultimately win with Machado hitting into a game-ending double play!