Farewell to the King (February 23, 2011)


Well, I admit I was hoping for a runoff. I never liked the way Rahm Emanuel’s win in yesterday’s Chicago’s mayoral election was accepted as a foregone conclusion almost from the moment he announced his candidacy. We have spent the last 22 years voting (or not) for a virtually uncontested monarch, Richard M. Daley. To quote myself from the link above, “Mayor Daley may have done great things in terms of beautifying the landscape and attracting new business but anyone who has lived in the city for the last 22 years knows how much damage his interminable term has done: skyrocketing property taxes, unaffordable homes, runway gang crime and terrible fiscal decisions.”

Yesterday’s trip to the polls presented a chance for residents to take their city back, to peacefully foment a revolution, inspired by the examples that are quickly spreading across the Middle East. “Change” has been a political buzzword for several years now, but I am starting to wonder if the citizenry of Chicago is interested in that all. Because now we have Rahmbo. And no matter how young (relative to Daley), good looking and tough he is, is there anyone out there who really believes Rahmbo will make a clean break from The Machine politics of the Daley dynasty? If so, I have an extensive VHS collection I’d like to sell you (valuable vintage!)

I am willing to give Emanuel a chance. In some ways there is much to celebrate in accordance with his trouncing of the competition, earning 55% of the popular vote. We have our first mayor of Jewish descent. And we are spared the indignity of being led by Carol Mosley Braun, whose meager tax returns indicate a woman incapable of running a business (which, make no mistake this city is), and whose mouth suggest a woman incapable of talking sense. I invite Ms. Mosley Braun to crawl back under the pop cultural rock from whence she came.

And if I have mixed feelings about Rahm Emanuel as Chicago’s new mayor (intertwined with my reservations about Bill Daley serving as the President’s new Chief of Staff), I am unequivocally thrilled to be rid of the Daley regime. The AP succinctly contextualizes the long running relationship as follows: “It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.”

If ever there was an argument for term limits, Daley was it. I was never a fan but I have been forced to stand by idly for two decades as the term “affordable housing” became an oxymoron. Chicago has failing schools, rampant gang activity, and for anyone who raves about all the “beautification” initiatives Daley has undertaken, I invite you to take a trip o the South Side with me. For the most part, the King and his cohorts labored under the misguided impression that the North lakefront was the whole of the city. Coincidently, the North lakefront is where you will find all of Daley’s big and rich contributors. I am sure this is merely coincidence.

No matter who was declared the victor last night, I would be happy because today is 24 hours closer to being able to give Daley and his parking meter lease the boot. And not that this has any impact on his eventual ability to govern, but Rahm is certainly an aesthetic improvement over old Dick, with his trained ballet dancer grace and sexiness.

At least Chicago received some national political attention of the positive kind, rather than the interminable corruption charges, trials and imprisonments of our state governors. I know we have wisely placed a moratorium on the death penalty, but couldn’t we waive it just this once to rid ourselves of Blago? That clown is like the shame gift that keeps on giving (unasked).

Daley? Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Rahmbo? You better mean it, unlike your former boss, when you say you’re prepared to ask Chicagoans to make the “touch choices” that will bring the city back to fiscal solvency. I’ll be watching.


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