Friday, February 18, 2011


      This is a variation of a column done for The Wanderer the nation’s oldest national Catholic weekly.
     Polls usually don’t mean much in Chicago elections but last week one sponsored by the Chicago Retail Merchants Association caused Squid operatives…including many foot soldiers dependent on it for jobs…to draw a deep breath of relief.
                         Rahm Far Ahead, Moseley Braun Last. 
       In the mayoral election of Feb. 22 which requires the winner to get 50% plus one of all votes or else submit to a runoff of the two top contestants, the poll has Rahm Emanuel at 58.2%.    Carol Moseley Braun, the first black female U. S. Senator, slipped to the bottom with 6.0% Moseley Braun’s life and career has been so chaotic she’s convinced me that were she elected she could do in one term what Detroit’s Mayor Coleman Young took decades to accomplish—turn a vital city into a desolate moonscape.  What she needs is not the mayoralty—but a job. By her checkbook balances, she’s almost destitute, has four different mortgages on her house and is in debt up to her charismatic smile.
       But one aspect of the poll is unbelievable.  It shows Emanuel getting 71% of the black vote and she receiving only 16%. This is highly unlikely to happen as Chicago blacks are almost fanatically loyal to candidates of their race.  Black voters are wary of whitey’s continued dominance.  They frequently lie to pollsters.   If this is true on Feb. 22 as historically it has been up to now, it means that Moseley-Braun will get far more black votes than she’s been credited with.
     In second place with a total of 23.7%: an entirely respectable candidate by Squid standards, , Gery (pronounced “Gary”) Chico, half Hispanic, half Greek multi-millionaire lawyer with a penthouse on Michigan avenue.  He’s backed by powerful city council finance chairman Eddie Burke with service as Mayor Daley’s top staffer, head of the board of education (the public schools now experiencing a 50% dropout rate) and park district.   He’s a far better presenter than Emanuel.  I thought Axelrod’s commercials would show some cinematic art rather than verite. 
       City clerk Miguel del Valle, of Puerto Rican birth, the most idealistically Left candidate, ranked third with 10.4%.  He evidently drank a magic potion and became the invisible man.
                            Black Voters Don’t Poll Easily.   
       Reasonable as the potential Emanuel accession to power seems from the polls, the drama is far from over.  A few days ago a union leader made a strenuous effort to target Emanuel’s Jewishness.   It almost sounded like The Protocols of the Elders of Zionwith the stereotype missing only Shylock of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Fagin of Dickens’ Oliver Twist.  In essence he said Emanuel is a Wall Street money-changer who sold out the unions for 30 pieces of silver as Judas sold out Christ.   
       Emanuel is politically lucky to be made a target of bigotry for he comes off as a victim—just as he did in his first congressional primary against Nancy Kaczak when Al Moskol president of the Polish Roman Catholic Union declared that he was a dual citizen, of the U. S. and Israel which was not so.   Kaczak had a tough time disassociating herself from that because, as a Pole herself, she had many allies who were friends of Moskol’s
          Puffed up by the polls showing him well out-front, Emanuel announced that if elected he will reorganize the city council—which could well mean that as there will be an unprecedented number of rookie aldermen he might influence, he could well flip them to strip its most powerful member, Alderman Ed Burke of his finance chairmanship and his police guards: a stinging insult to the luminescent-white-haired veteran who has run events with no interference, even causing Mayor Daley, a longtime rival, to avoid interfering with his power.
                            Voter Revolution’s in the Air.
      Widespread public unrest across the globe might catch on here.  Since nobody can accept the poll’s massive compilation of 70 plus percent of black votes to Emanuel, speculation on how the vote will go has produced weird theories among veteran denizens of the bars. Some predict Moseley Braun’s longshot election based on the recent blizzard and Green Bay Packers victories.
        Understand, one has to have a requisite number of beers to understand—but their rationale goes like this: 
       Deep snow and football upsets combine to precipitate restlessness in all bodies politick.  In 1931 there was 19.2 inches of snow, the Green Bay Packers won the championship of the Professional Football League (predecessor of the NFL) and voters dumped Republican Mayor Big Bill Thompson for Democrat Anton Cermak, founder of The Squid.
     The theory continues: The blizzard of  1967 produced snowfall of 23 inches and initiated widespread cultural and political unrest.  The Beatles came out with “Sergeant Pepper & the Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Green Bay led an upset to win the Super Bowl.  Richard Nixon started to move up in the polls against the Dems, leading to his stunning election against all odds the next year.
     In 1979 16.3 inches fell on Jan. 3 alone, the Sahara Desert got its first snow in history;  two days later another 15.2 inches hit Chicago electing Chicago’s only woman mayor Jane Byrne; while at the same time an unusual snowfall throughout England occurred after which Margaret Thatcher checked in at #10 Downing Street;   voter unrest propelled 69-year-old Ronald Reagan  to catch up to Jimmy Carter whom he eventually beat.
      Now, the reasoning goes, earlier this month the snow  reached 20 plus inches, Green Bay surprised the Bears who had defeated them earlier and went on to tumble the favored Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl. Egypt’s strongman Hosni Mubarak tumbled before a crowd of one million in Cairo’s main square; unrest is spreading throughout the Middle East—which inevitably will lead to a Mayor Carol Moseley Braun.       
      However, the rest of us should review their thinking, consider they’ve been drinking--and then forget it.
        But whatever, we will know on Feb. 22, Washington’s birthday. If Emanuel gets elected without a runoff Chicago could well get a tough  mayor determined to balance the budget, greasing the skids for him to become this country’s first Jewish president. 
         But of course Emanuel would not come to the mayoralty and Squid co-leadership as a virtuous gelding.
       This reassures The Squid because it feels comfortable with corruption believing that when you purify the pond, the lilies die.  Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote that Emperor Pertinax [AD 126-193] was such a goody-two-shoes that age-old traditions that he repealed longstanding small time graft that  greased the wheels of commerce in the capital city.  Such as  payoffs for good places for farmers to display their produce in market centers.  A few denarius (silver coins) here, a sprinkling of aureus (gold coins) there got an entrepreneur a favorable location.  Not unlike when you tip a cop at O’Hare to ignore your car illegally parked as you go inside the terminal to pick up an aged aunt.
       Pre-Pertinax, vendors tipped Roman soldiers to get prominent a place in line at city markets to display their vegetable wares.  
       Then Pertinax ruined everything by decreeing first come first served…meaning to get a good spot in the square a vendor would have to arrive at 4 a.m.
          Then the pampered Praetorian Guard found their pay cut to save expenses. What to do?  The only sensible thing.  A commercial traditionalist sneaked up behind Pertinax as he was virtuously praying to the gods and strangled him with a gold chain…this in respect for his deity status. 
      Pertinax was buried with full honors and, thankfully, writes Gibbon, business returned to normal.   
                            Emanuel Won’t Purify the Pond.
       Understand it from me: A Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t be another Emperor Pertinax. 
       In his runs for Congress in crafty old Dan Rostenkowski’s district (covering an oddly-shaped swath across the city’s North Side and running to the suburbs south of O’Hare) he won only with the support of city workers who passed his petitions and ran get-out-the-vote drives in his behalf.  He argues he didn’t know about it—and he has not been charged with doing anything improper so  while the turtle-like U. S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is still checking records, it appears Rahm’s home free.
      Not so several top city administrators who followed Mayor Daley’s spoken, not written, orders to elect Rahm. For doing this Robert Sorich the city hall personnel chief got ten years in jail and Al Sanchez, head of Streets and Sanitation, more than two years in federal prison.  
       When  Sorich went to jail in 2006  Mayor Daley’s regrets were conveyed in a press release lamenting that Sorich was a fine family man.  Nothing was heard from Cong. Emanuel who scored success that year—2006—and I mean big-time by electing a Dem Congress.  He was then chairman of his party’s House campaign committee and was called a political genius by The New York Times. 
        Today Emanuel crusades as a “reform mayor” while Sorich and Sanchez are paying the bill for following orders from On High to elect him.  It bothers their wives and children very much but not Rahm Emanuel. 
        Two weeks ago, a Streets & Sanitation worker, James Sprandel, told the Tribune he was present in the Fall of 2002 when new Cong. Emanuel treated more than three dozen city workers at a beer bust to thank them for their help.
        “He knew we were working for him,” he said. “Daley made him a personal project.  Up until then I never heard of Rahm  Emanuel but the Daleys sat we’re going to support him so we did. That’s just the way it was.  To get overtime or coveted assignments you had to `volunteer’ your time for politics.”
     Another, Jesus Navorro on the Water department payroll, said about Emanuel “wasn’t he running for Senate or something?  I don’t remember.  I just did the politics to protect my job.  See, I don’t know Emanuel but I just wanted to be safe in my job so I joined the 36th ward [Democratic] organization.”
       Emanuel has declined to talk about this to the press saying he is concentrating on the substantive issues-- but his campaign spokesman said “He does not condone what occurred and has laid out a policy that would ensure that workers are hired and promoted solely on their performance working on behalf of the taxpayers.” 
                       The Precocious Neophyte Investment Banker.              
        Earlier came Rahm’s experience as board member of Freddie Mac when its policies triggered the current housing crisis, mortgage crisis and accounting scandal that…after he left… produced huge fines levied on the public-private corporation. As a board member who met with others six times a year Emanuel earned $320,000 for the 14-month stint.
        Then he became an investment banker…with on-the-job training from Clinton’s old treasury secretary Robert Rubin on Wall Street… earning more than $18 million in two-and-a-half years, managing a major acquisition for Exelon the Chicago-based energy company and the merger of  a New York company with a home alarm business from the telecommunications company run by Bill Daley, the former Clinton secretary of commerce and brother of the Chicago mayor.
      And only a year ago when he was Obama’s chief of staff, never to be forgotten was his handling of ObamaCare passage in the U. S. Senate where a reluctant Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu (D) was persuaded to vote for it, by means that became known as the “Louisiana Purchase”—the addition of almost unreadable legal language that pertained only to Louisiana allowing its backlog of Medicaid bills--$100 million—to be covered by the bill since Louisiana was recovering from “a major disaster” i.e. Hurricane Katrina.
        A few days later came the “Cornhusker Purchase” under which Nebraska could expand its Medicaid coverage with 49 states picking up the bill, written to convince conservative Dem Sen. Ben Nelson to jump off the fence.   Nelson found out from Nebraskans how unpopular it was and nixed the largesse to his state.
                      The Mysterious Missing Phone Transcript to Blago.
       The way it looks now, unless the black vote goes south, Emanuel will win Feb. 22.   There’s only one joker in the deck.  Rod Blagojevich who will stand trial June 3 has charged that the transcript of a phone call he had with Emanuel…the day before Blago was arrested…is missing and is being withheld by federal prosecutors—which could show Emanuel bartering for the Senate appointment to go to Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s friend.  
       Is it?  Blago’s veracity isn’t golden.   But if it is leaked before election, it could become the fabled monkey-wrench to stall the machinery in the Elect Rahm works.
      Getting back to the poll, you’ll have to convince me that Emanuel will get 70% of the black vote.

No comments:

Post a Comment