When I saw his number pop up, the only question was, do I let it go to voicemail or resign myself to the inevitable and get it over with? Not wanting to prolong the agony, I chose the latter. Of course, it was my supercilious and self-important Chicago precinct captain friend Mike, who just loves to razz, as he likes to put it, “You’se rustic Kane County rubes.”
So here’s a reasonably accurate transcript of our 10 minute conversation. By the way, it really helps if you read Mike’s dialogue using a very thick south side accent.
Mike: So Jeff! I hear your county chairman was just involved in a major corruption scandal. (Please imagine a boatload of smarmy sarcasm dripping from the phrase “major corruption scandal.”)
Jeff: Mike, do you have to do this every time something like this happens out here?
Jeff: (I just couldn’t stop myself from blurting out the question.) Waddaya mean Mike?
Mike: C’mon Jeff you know exactly want I mean! (The sad thing is, he was right!) Your development department goes out and hires a backup architectural firm that gave the Chairman $2,450 – over the last 18 years? That’s gotta be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. (Insert uproarious laughter here.)
Jeff: (All I could do was sigh.)
Mike: You realize that comes out to one hundred thirty six dollars and eleven cents (Please put a heavy accent on the “11 cents”) a year don’t you?
Jeff: Yes! Yes I do Mike. I did the math myself.
Mike: Over here in the 13th, we wouldn’t walk your freaking dog for a $136.11 a year. You couldn’t get a pothole fixed for that amount and don’t even think about asking for a new sidewalk. But out dere by you’se, you can hustle a county contract for less than two prime Sox box seats? Yeah right! (Insert derisive chuckling here.)
Jeff: (Too embarrassed to say anything or even sigh.)
Mike: Hey Jeff! Give me a call when some connected consulting company gets a gig after giving your chairman $2,450 a year! Then we’ll have something to talk about.
Jeff: (Doing my damndest to defend what was left of Kane County’s honor.) But Mike, the previous Chairman took those kinds of contributions from county contractors all the time. Doesn’t that count for something?
Mike: Jeff, Jeff, Jeff! Do you really want to start bringing up the past? Don’t make me mention…
Jeff: No! No Mike! Anything, but that. Please don’t bring up Richard J. or M. Daley. Please Mike, I’m begging you! I’ve had enough. You win!
Mike: $136.11 a year! Don’t you’se guys have anything better to do? Aren’t there any real stories out there? You know – something about a farmer buying a new John Deere or something?
Jeff: Apparently not, Mike.
Mike: See ya buddy!
Jeff: Not if I see you first Mike.
Though he’s always been a pain in the butt, I have to say that particular exchange was exceptionally brutal. Now I won’t be able to show my face in Cook County for months! Ah well. At least I’ll avoid all those red light camera ticket spikes.
But, after having to suffer that kind of categorical political beat-down, I now have no choice but to call for the Chairman’s resignation. Because if he can’t get a grip on what graft, corruption and cronyism really is, then how can we possibly hold our collective Kane County heads high in the hallowed halls of Illinois?
If he stays in office, this chairmanic shortcoming will continue to be nothing more that a constant source of embarrassment that no self-respecting voter should have to endure. But most of all, I really don’t want to have to take another call from Mike.