Quick Hits – Apparently Chicago is, well, kind of, maybe, somewhat ready for some reform – or not!

So, here’s what we’ve learned from what basically turned out to be yesterday’s Second City mayoral primary:

1. Chicago will have its first black female mayor!

And the Windy City will play host their first female gay black mayor if Lightfoot wins the runoff which, considering her current momentum, looks far more likely than not. And that’s really kind of cool!

Perhaps being a triple minority has actually prepared her for the absurd potential challenges ahead!

Lightfoot Preckwinkle

 

2. I wuz wrong!

First, I rather offhandedly dismissed Lightfoot outright in a previous column. And second, despite the fact that she was moving up in some polls, none of them predicted she’d come out on top. Nary a pundit picked her to pull away from the pack either.

I certainly wouldn’t have put any money on her.

All I can say is, she must’ve had one hell of a ground game because, while Daley, Mendoza, Joyce, Preckwinkle, and Chico beamed directly through my home-office TV screen on a regular basis, Ms. Lightfoot was nowhere to be seen.

And if she has the kind of ground game I suspect, she’s got this thing.

 

3. Political polling is a dying art

First Donald Trump and now this? The 2016 excuse was so many voters refused to admit they were supporting the President, it skewed the numbers. But how do you explain that even the most favorable poll had Lightfoot in a semi-distant third place?

“If the answer is that polling is dying, then why,” you ask? I wish I could tell you!

It could be that Gallup and their compatriots are finding it increasingly difficult to access a real slice of the voter universe. With those incessant offshore telemarketers targeting our cell phones to the tune of ten calls a day, no one picks up for unknown callers anymore. And cellphones will soon make landlines extinct.

Or perhaps the political winds shift so quickly in our lightspeed news cycle that no pollster could possibly keep up.

Unless they can come up with some sort of newer more accurate methodology, political polling will slowly go the way of the PDA.

 

4. The Daley Dynasty is done!

You can’t say the voters rejected him outright – coming in third in a field of 14 candidates is no small feat – and I correctly predicted that he and Ms. Preckwinkle would finish in a virtual dead heat. But, unless there’s an untoward blizzard, most Chicago mayors get at least two terms, which means the younger Daley will be 78 before he gets another shot.

And that ain’t no job for a 78-year-old.

I remain steadfast in my claim that he was the best candidate, but 2019 was certainly not the year to bear that surname. Maybe Chicago really is somewhat ready for reform!

I have to say that one of the more fascinating facets of my existence is to have observed the Daley dynasty from almost the beginning. It will never happen again anywhere. I’m sure Mike and Slats will hoist few cold ones in memory of what was at that underworld Billy Goat Tavern this evening. (You didn’t think columnists don’t go to Heaven, did you?)

 

5.  Ed Burke won?

Maybe Chicago ain’t ready for reform, after all! With those federal attempted extortion charges failing to put as much as a dent in him, Burke easily dispatched two pretenders despite Chuy Garcia’s vast support for one of them.

In an even more bizarre twist, while the eminently charismatic Susana Mendoza’s close relationships with Burke and wire-wearing Alderman Danny Solis dropped her into fourth place, her mentor beat his two challengers without breaking a sweat.

So, what I really want to know is, how can Chicago put a gay black female prosecutor over the mayoral top, but reelect an alderman who’s been the very face of Chicago Machine corruption for 50 years? I wasn’t foolish enough to predict he’d lose, but yikes!

 

6. Mendoza will never be more than Comptroller

Had Hispanics actually voted, she would’ve won, but no one’s figured out how to get them to go to a polling place quite yet.

Watching her rise to the top has been a very compelling proposition, and if anyone can survive this bump in the electoral road, she can. But right now, it looks like Illinois Comptroller will be the pinnacle of her political career.

She’ll likely have that job as long as she wants it, but we all know she wants more. The moral of that story is, if you live by the Machine sword, you can just as easily die by it. Guilt by association can be a powerful, if fickle, thing.

 

6. The Ricketts children are every bit as tone deaf as their father!

Tiring of what they deemed to be “intractable” aldermen, the Ricketts family ran one of the loudest and silliest whisper campaigns I’ve ever seen. C’mon! “Terrible Tunney?” A third-grader could’ve come up with something better than that!

Completely failing to grasp the anti-Cub corporate steamroller timbre of that 44th Wrigleyville Ward, incumbent Tom Tunney topped that three-candidate field with a whopping 64 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the Ricketts’ anointed hopeful received just 11 percent which, as the only female in the race, should have been a statistical impossibility.

So now the Ricketts family will have to contend with:

  • A new mayor that doesn’t owe them or the Cubs anything
  • A new black mayor that won’t be amused by their father’s racist email musings
  • An alderman with a clear mandate to stand in their way every step of the way

Money clearly doesn’t mitigate stupidity!

 

7. Joe Moore lost!!??

That was the biggest surprise of the night!

But before we continue, for purposes of full disclosure, Joe was one of my favorite Evanston Township High School friends and I’m really sad to see him go. Succeeding the legendary David Orr, he’s been the most consistent reform alderman in recent Chicago history.

But facts are facts, and 49th Ward challenger Maria Hadden didn’t just beat him, she mopped the floor with him. I can’t remember the last time I watched a political novice beat a six-term incumbent by 28 points. Yikes!

The Trib chalked his defeat up to those lakefront liberals rebelling against the typically independent Moore sidling up to Rahm Emanuel. But they’re wrong! I lived in the 49th for eight long years and to say it’s “diverse” would be a massive misnomer. It is so eclectic that the political tone shifts from building to building.

Moore’s first problem is that Hadden is a black woman in what is clearly turning out to the year of the black woman. And whenever an incumbent loses by that margin, it typically means they started taking the office for granted. So, I’d bet my bottom dollar that Hadden outworked Joe by that same spread.

A more progressive candidate beat a progressive candidate? That also appears to be a new political phenomenon.

 

8. Marty Quinn destroyed David Krupa

This was the least surprising Tuesday turn of events!

Despite reaping millions of dollars in free press coverage documenting his abuse at the hands of the Madigan Machine, David Krupa went down in the kind of 72-point electoral flames that would make Michael Dukakis laugh out loud.

Like I said before, no blatant Trump support will EVER prevail in the City That Works.

 

9. Paul Vallas needs to call it quits

Our former CEO of Chicago Public Schools finished a very disappointing ninth with just 5.5 percent of the mayoral vote.

Though he’s one of the few candidates who always put the voters first, as the late, great Cubs Manager Leo Durocher once kinda said, “Chicago and Illinois aren’t ready for nice guys.” And this certainly wasn’t the year of the nice old white guy, either.

I wouldn’t count him out because you’ll see his Paul’s picture directly adjacent to the dictionary definition of “indomitable,” but at 65, all those losses must be taking their toll. You gave it your best shot Paul!

 

As far our impending Kane County municipal races go, those Aurora and Elgin hopefuls really oughtta take note of the lessons to be learned. They’re a little tough to ferret out, but, trust me, they’re there! Though I will continue to say it’s more of a tornado than a tsunami – how do you explain Ed Burke – but as those great philosophers The Scorpions once intoned, the political winds are most certainly changing.

It will be Preckwinkle and Daley!

Thank you to my friend Paul for reminding me that the Windy City is directly in the throes of a major mayoral election. And though there are more folks running than generally attend White Sox games, the semi-final result will be Toni Preckwinkle and Bill Daley in a virtual dead heat.

If Hispanics actually voted, Susana Menodoza would make the cut, but tainted by her relationship with Ed Burke, she will finish third.

Image result for preckwinkle daley

Having interviewed Mr. Daley a couple of times, on the former radio show, he clearly is the best candidate and he will prevail in the runoff!

Just remember, you heard it here first!

Quick Hits – Getting it wrong matters!

Much like it was with the Gliniewicz suicide, anyone with half a brain immediately understood that Empire actor Jussie Smollett was making it all up. C’mon! Two guys with MAGA hats, in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, searching out and assaulting Smollett as they shouted “Empire” while hurling racial and homophobic slurs at two in the morning on an 11 degree below zero night?

Right!

None of it made sense, not the least of which was, with all due respect, nobody really knew who Smollett was. It was certainly the first I’d ever heard of him. There were far more visible gay targets and what MAGA crew would ever watch a show featuring African-Americans in the music Business? They’re not the type of folks who’d perform any kind of due diligence in furtherance of a hate crime, either.

Even the CPD said they had massive doubts about his story from the beginning.

Smollet

But sadly, in a hyper-partisan era where even journalists leap at any opportunity to advance their own narrative, few people are willing to reserve judgement until the dust settles. And all those liberal pundits and journalists who quickly rallied to Smollett’s side are now eating a full serving of crow, the worst of them being Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton.

Glanton is an African-American journalist who regularly gets away with the kind of proclamations that would quickly get a Caucasian compatriot fired. My favorite Glanton declaration was her contention that the prejudice and persecution directed at gay folks pales in comparison to what black people have had to endure.

Who knew suffering intolerance was a contest?

Sure! It can be easier to determine an individual’s race as opposed to ferreting out their sexual orientation, but getting bounced from a wedding cake bakery on the basis of either is no less appalling. Had a white columnist claimed the opposite, to say there would be hell to pay would be the most massive of understatements.

But instead of issuing a mea culpa for jumping on the Smollett bandwagon, Glanton doubled down last Friday with a column titled, “Sorry bigots, I’m not sorry for once trusting Jussie Smollett. She wrote:

But let’s be clear. Just because one person lied about a racist and homophobic incident does not let all bigots off the hook. This is not a reprieve for someone who has set a bomb off in a mosque or sprayed a synagogue with deadly gunfire.

We live in a country where bigotry is commonplace. And that’s just as disgraceful and inexcusable as someone staging a fake attack.  

Apparently, Ms. Glanton’s parents never told her that two wrongs don’t make a right, and not nearly all of the people who attacked her for conclusion jumping were bigots. Me for example! She went on to basically say that being a black columnist means never having to say you’re sorry.

Glanton

Dahleen Glanton

But that’s exactly what she should’ve done, once for completely dropping the journalistic ball and a second time for doing real damage to the tolerance cause. Of course her error doesn’t excuse any kind of bigotry, but there’s also no excuse for Glanton’s failure to admit that she was wrong.

And if a journalist can’t take constructive criticism and correct themselves, what hope is there for the rest of us?

By not saying she’s sorry, Glanton not only hardens the hearts of the very people she’s trying to reach, but she makes it much more difficult for the next real hate-crime victim to be believed. It also belies an agenda that doesn’t rely on the facts.

So, why should anyone trust her going forward? But there was no outcry because she’s  black.

In his former HBO comedy show, Chris Rock had a bit where he’d track “black progress,” by marking steps forward or backward on a felt chart. One of his funnier comments was, “Mae Jemison, the first black woman to go out in space, blacks took 16 steps ahead. But then Lil Kim, the first black woman with her [breast] hanging out, [expletive] 42 steps back.”

Sure, it was a joke, but like all great satire, it was based on, and made blistering fun of, a stark reality. Both blacks and gays are unfairly judged based upon their leadership and celebrity acts.

So similarly, Glanton set:

  • Black folks back 20 steps
  • Gay folks back another 20 steps
  • Liberals back 40 steps
  • Journalist back 50 steps
  • Conservatives and their “fake news” claims ahead 100 steps

So, if you’re a gay black liberal journalist, you just took a real hit. I kid, but the truth is, the amount of damage just one errant journalist can do borders on the immeasurable. Look at how Fox News has co-opted the national debate!

Though it probably won’t happen, I’m still holding out hope that Ms. Glanton will make a point of atoning for her error, while insisting she won’t be so quick to jump to these kinds of political conclusions in the future.

I also hope she understands that a white journalist probably wouldn’t have survived this debacle.

 

Quick Hits – More Elgin public art? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Some folks, or should I say some municipalities, just never learn. Silly me! I thought, in the aftermath of the 2016 ‘American Nocturne’ debacle, Elgin was getting out of the public art business for good.  As those great philosophers Great White sagely intoned, “Once bitten, twice shy,” right?

But no! Utterly undaunted by those previous capacity city council crowds where people went completely bonkers over a painting, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission is soliciting applications to “transform” two downtown utility boxes into “art canvases.”

Aside from electrocuting an aspiring artist or two, what could possibly go wrong with that? All I can say is, where’s George Santayana when you really need him?

For reference purposes, local artist David Powers’ ‘American Nocturne’ mural stood sedately on the streets of Elgin for more than a decade before an observer finally realized it captured the bottom half of a photograph of an infamous 1930 Marion, Indiana, lynching.

American Nocturne

Then, despite the fact that it directly skewered those white spectators, the bovine excrement hit the fan and the painting was removed and stored away somewhat similarly to the lost Ark of the Covenant. That was the point at which yours truly accurately advised Elgin to forever abandon any effort to sponsor public art. But since no one ever listens to me, they’re gonna give it another shot.

Now, I would be the first one to submit an application, but I have even less artistic talent than the late Jackson Pollack and Christo. C’mon! Jet engine exhaust paintings and wrapping a bleepin’ island in bedsheets is NOT art.

But I digress!

Since I lack the appropriate skillset, and in light of my eminently magnanimous nature, I’ve gone to great mental lengths to provide those eager applicants with the kind of quality utility box inspiration that only leads to great things. So, without further ado, here’s my Top Ten proposal list  for Elgin utility box paintings/murals:

1. A depiction of former U-46 School Board member, Traci Ellis, firmly grasping a roll of toilet paper in one hand and an American flag in the other as she self-righteously expounds on the Jussie Smollett and Aurora shooting events while getting every possible detail wrong.

2. City Councilman Terry Gavin getting into a fistfight with some Elgin senior citizens who showed up at city hall to protest a lack bus stop benches. That one actually makes me a little verklempt!

3.  Former City Councilman John Prigge turning his back to the council dais in protest of Rose Martinez’ appointment to that same body.

4. Overly entitled and beyond pompous City Council hopeful, Baldemar Lopez, threatening yet another politician or group that he’ll “remember the people who supported him.” (We’ll be talking a lot more about Mr. Lopez going forward!)

5. A proud display of my 2010 Elgin City motto contest winner “The Nut Capital of Illinois!” It still beats the pants off “The City in the Suburbs” hands down.

6.  City Councilman Corey Dixon pounding his fist on the dais as he demands that all Elgin police officers immediately be fired for their obvious collusion with Lt. Chris Jensen.

7. A bald Rose Martinez fervently declaring that she really shaved her head as an homage to her favorite columnist.

8. Judge John Dalton and State Senator Cristina Castro’s legislative aide Rich Jacobs regularly using Elgin Township Supervisor Franklin Ramirez as their private limo service on company time.

9. Councilwoman Tish Powell as a marionette regularly being manipulated by that same Ms. Ellis.

10. And perhaps what might be favorite choice, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission being led into a local veterinarian’s office to be neutered for failing to take any kind of stand on the ‘American Nocturne’ mural.

I understand that, with just two utility boxes and ten amazing options, the choice will be a difficult one. But such is my vast love for the City of Elgin.

But before we go, I would also like to encourage my adoring throng to weigh in with their own artistic utility box thoughts which will be gloriously covered in an upcoming column. Until then!

Quick Hits – ROR? Yikes!

My adoring throng knows that whenever I start a story with a slew of stipulations, it’s going to get very interesting very quickly. With that in mind, let’s move forward.

First, let me be perfectly clear that putting on the black dress is one of the most difficult propositions on the planet. That inherent stress doesn’t excuse those predominantly bad Kane County judges, but it does explain why so many of them aren’t up to the task.

And that gig is especially hard on new judges. Suddenly you’re no longer an advocate. Now you hold the defendant’s fate completely in your hands, you have to objectively interpret all manner of law and precedent, and if you get it wrong and somebody gets hurt or dies as a result, there’s nowhere to hide.

Gavel

Furthermore, considering how the capacity to post bond disproportionally affects minorities, I understand why the Illinois legislature just authorized a brand-new bond statute. This one requires the courts to consider the specific circumstances of a defendant, such that those who don’t pose a threat or flight risk won’t rot in jail waiting for the disposition of their case.

And I agree with that reform-minded logic for the following reasons:

1. In an absurd turn, the Circuit Clerk gets to keep 10 percent of any bond amount even if the defendant prevails. That sounds fair, right? And that kind of highway robbery is particularly onerous for the economically disadvantaged.

2. Minorities bear the brunt of Kane County arrests and being held until trial affects them far more than most white folks through fallout like job loss. That means they’re far more likely to take a quick plea deal regardless of innocence or guilt.

3. Why should a non-violent offender sit in jail when they’re not a flight risk? The cost to the taxpayer is staggering.

But the key term in our three-point analysis is “non-violent offender.”

Especially in light of the still-raw Aurora mass shooting, I was more than stunned when a source told me about the Keyshaune Steele case. Steele, an 18- or 19-year-old Elgin resident, is facing the following charges:

  • Possession of a stolen firearm – a class 2 felony
  • Two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a firearm – both class 4 felonies
  • Reckless discharge of a weapon – a class 4 felony
  • Unlawful possession of ammunition – a class A misdemeanor

Apparently, Mr. Steele had a really bad day.

But that didn’t stop brand new Elgin Branch Court Judge, Julia Yetter, from RORing him or releasing him on his own recognizance. To put that in perspective, the bond for my most recent bogus misdemeanor charge was seven grand while Mr. Steele, with his four felony counts, simply walked out of the courtroom.

Please also allow me to stipulate that Steele is utterly innocent until a judge or jury determines otherwise. Also, I don’t know what, if any, bond the State requested.

To put this in perspective, I spoke with a Collar County judge and a couple of criminal defense attorneys.

The judge told me that, while ROR is unusual for this set of circumstances, if the defendant has no prior record, and/or they’re turning state’s evidence, it’s not unheard of for a judge to keep them out of jail.

And Mr. Steele, indeed, has no obvious priors in Kane County. But I say “obvious” because any previous juvenile record would be sealed. More than one local attorney has privately railed against judges who, though they have access to that juvenile record, believe that magical 18th birthday suddenly wipes that slate clean.

I don’t know if Mr. Steele has a juvenile record, but considering the current charges, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he did.

As far as Steele helping the State’s Attorney, I have very good reason to believe he’s not turning state’s evidence.

The first defense attorney was equally surprised by the ROR. He said he would expect at least a $50,000 bond, which means the defendant would have to come up with $5,000 to be released. The second lawyer concurred.

Again, Judge Yetter is the newest member of that exclusive 16th Circuit club having been sworn in last December. And while any difficult job requires a breaking in period, the expectation when you don the black robe is, through your vast legal experience, you’ll hit the ground running.

To wit, Yetter has a stellar curriculum vitae, the highlight of which was serving as a well-regarded DuPage and Kane County public defender. And as we’ve previously discussed, the PD gig is as tough as it gets. But according to a statistically insignificant number of sources, she may not be quite up to the judicial job.

That said, I’m not willing to make a final pronouncement at this early stage, and she’s exactly the kind of individual who should be able to recover from a rocky start. But the fact that Mr. Steele still walks the streets of Elgin should make you very nervous.

It certainly bothers me. Let’s hope Judge Yetter improves quickly!

 

Quick Hits – February 18, 2019

Why give him “credit?”

After a previous mass shooting, a local paper declared they’d no longer grant a shooter’s final wish by covering them such that they’d go out in a blaze of glory. Those editors accurately explained that kind of publicity would only incite the next on-the-edge individual into the very same act.

But here we are coping with yet another mass murder – this one in our own backyard – and that newspaper, and the rest of the Chicago tabloids, are doing their damndest to glorify another mass murderer.

What’s the point of making him a hero to every disgruntled individual who doesn’t think they have anything to lose? What’s the point of turning him into an idol to those desperate people who wish they had the nerve to do the same thing?

I don’t get it.

I’m not saying the press could prevent these tragedies simply by withholding the shooter’s name. I’m not nearly that naïve. But there’s a reason the NFL and Major League Baseball asked the networks to avoid aiming the cameras at any nitwit who was stupid enough to run out onto the field. Since that wise decision, fan interference episodes have become virtually non-existent.

I also understand the inherent human drive to want to learn more about and try and understand the Aurora mass murderer, but it’s a fool’s errand. There have already been 43 mass shootings in this country this year and it’s only February 18. The solution isn’t a matter of understanding, though we do need to provide a better safety net for the mentally ill, it’s to keep guns out of the hands of people who’ve shown a propensity for mental illness and violence.

That certainly isn’t a 100 percent proposition, but it would be a great start.

Go ahead and honor the beyond brave Aurora Police officers who rushed towards that building and dealt with the shooter at light speed. Go ahead and explain why no one should have to fear that going to work on a Friday morning will be the last thing they ever do. Go ahead and make an argument for reasonable gun control.

But please don’t cover the shooter. It’s an utterly irresponsible journalistic act.

 

But the folks who politicized it are so much worse!

It’s fun when a columnist acquires new readers, but it’s equally fascinating when those first-time folks make all sorts of assumptions based on just one column. So, for the record, please let me stipulate that, while I might be a fiscal hawk, when it comes to social issues, I stand squarely with most liberals.

And being a social liberal puts me in the unique position of being able to call out my progressive counterparts when they insist on making the right seem sane by comparison.

Ellis 2

To wit, I was more that a bit dismayed at the capacity of the usual Elgin liberal suspects to politicize the Aurora mass shooting well before we knew any of the facts. Led down the primrose path by former U-46 School Board member and self-appointed Elgin morality expert Traci Ellis – the one who called the American flag the equivalent of toilet paper – here’s how that social media conversation unfolded:

Liberals: Is there any doubt this is another disgruntled white guy with a gun going on a rampage.

Ellis: “Shot four Police officers and in custody? Welp. We know something about the shooter, don’t we?”

Reality: Um…the shooter was black and he’s dead.

Liberals: He was black? Of course, he was black! If a Caucasian man pointed a gun at the police, they would’ve taken him alive.

Ellis: “Oh! And the shooter was black which partially explains why he’s dead.”

Reality: He didn’t just point a gun at the police, he killed five co-workers and wounded five officers, most of them at long range. They had no clue about his race when they went into that building.

Liberals: My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. But obviously the shooter was driven to this kind of rage as a result of enduring a lifetime of bigotry, culminating in The Man firing him.

Reality: The shooter worked at the company for 15 years at a time when the average American job life expectancy is just 4.6 years.

Liberals: Did you know Aurora has a woman police chief! And some male law enforcement expert said this was going to be particularly emotionally tough on her. He wouldn’t have said such a scurrilous thing about a male police chief, now would he? This whole unfortunate incident is chock full of racism AND sexism! I’m outraged!

Ellis: “Several of you are slightly testy because I commented on the race of the Aurora shooter and pointed out the fact that he was black was PARTIALLY the reason he was dead. I never said it was the sole reason. For those of you who felt I was playing the “race card” (that default narrative when you want to ignore or are blind to race issues), I invite you to read this article from 2015… Just because you don’t see the race issue doesn’t mean it’s there.

Reality: No Ms. Ellis, by clearly playing the race card and being dead wrong every step of the way, you proved exactly what kind of bigot and race baiter you really are. We’re quite clear on race issues with or without your blatant BS, thank you! And for a woman who just informed the Elgin City council about what is and isn’t moral, blatantly politicizing a tragedy to press your specific agenda and getting it wrong every step of the way, makes you far worse than Donald Trump. If that’s possible.

As is par for the course, Ellis’ “progressive” posse, consisting primarily of sycophantic middle-aged white women who fawn over her every pronouncement just to be able to say “one of my best friends is black,” proceeded to tell her that, despite the evidence to the contrary, she’s always right!

Remember Elgin! City Councilmen Tish Powell and Corey Dixon regularly take their marching orders from Traci Ellis. And their singular goal is to co-opt and take over that same city council. Is that the Elgin you really want?

 

Courage personified

Here’s to those beyond brave Aurora Police officers who, with no regard for their own personal safety, dealt with a truly terrible situation in an incredibly calm, efficient and competent manner. And that kind of thing always starts with the Chief.

Well done APD!