Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Defeating Rahm, Taking back Chicago. Tough, but It can be done.

Community groups rally to Take Back Chicago.
Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington paints a pretty grim, if not discouraging picture of Chicago's political future ("Despite woes, Rahm tough to beat"). She's right, of course. When it comes to elections in the Citizens United era, money doesn't just talk, it swears, to paraphrase Dylan.

Washington does a service by sizing Rahm up from a two-Chicago's perspective.
In one Chicago, they say Emanuel inherited and then revived an ailing city. He is an incorruptible, whirling dervish of government efficiency and accountability, single-minded about making Chicago a world-class city. Many in that Chicago dwell in the city’s prosperous inner core and are the wealthy and corporate interests Emanuel assiduously courts. 
The “other” Chicago — in the ’hoods — retorts that Emanuel disrespects those who disagree with him, governs by fiat and spin, and wields power to benefit his elite cronies, at their expense. 
She also could have mentioned the chaos and instability that have come along with Rahm's control of the city's public schools, his assault on the unions, especially those of teachers and public employees, and the pandemic gun violence plaguing the neighborhoods.

Mayor 1%
I would take issue with her on a couple of points. Even among Chicago's rich and powerful, there are factions who dislike Rahm (including the Daley clan) and some in business sector unhappy with his performance. The collapse of the Midway privatization deal is just the latest example of Rahm's ineptitude, from their perspective. The chaos, the tainting of the city's image and loss of business during the NATO summit is another. And then there's the dismal failure of his misnamed Infrastructure Trust.

Also remember, the mayor who is tied nationally to Pres. Obama and the Democratic Party hierarchy, has thrown in with Republican Bruce Rauner in the governor's race. Some Democrats, including some of his usual union allies can't be happy about that. While they will render unto Caesar, campaign contributions, many would like nothing more than to see him fall -- depending of course on a viable alternative.

And speaking of "incorruptible," let's wait and see how high up federal investigators are willing to go in the UNO scandal, Rahm's appointment of former comptroller Amer Ahmad, who was recently indicted in Ohio on conspiracy charges about directing state investments in exchange for bribes, and other City Hall contract mis-dealings. I could go on and on. But the point is, this is a regime up to its ears in conflicts of interest, Eddie Burke-style tax hanky-panky and political patronage. We'll see what happens when and if those who are plundering the city start rolling over on each other and jumping ship, and when those who have been kept away from the feeding trough start taking their revenge.

As for the "other Chicago", they we have problems of our own. While Take Back Chicago was an inspiring event, reminiscent of the early days of the Harold Washington campaign, which at least for a time, did take back Chicago, our weaknesses are transparent. Most notably, a movement still largely racially dis-unified and isolated like the city itself, and the lack of a viable candidate with name recognition, fund raising potential, and the ability and willingness to lead the kind of unified crusade necessary to pull and upset.

But I also think Washington is too quick to write off Ald. Fioretti as that candidate. While a progressive African-American, female candidate like CTU prez Karen Lewis or Toni Preckwinkle would obviously stand a great chance in a face-to-face battle with Rahm, neither has shown a willingness to run and each would have a lot to lose. In my mind, that leaves Fioretti who, along with the rest of the City Council's Progressive Caucus has been out front in standing up to Rahm, especially around support for public education and against TIF give-aways and the all-out privatization of city services. Could Fioretti be Chicago's Bill de Blasio? We'll see.

It will take a lot of work, lots of money, and a perfectly-run campaign (is there such a thing?). But I'm certainly more upbeat than Laura Washington. She's right. Rahm is a two-Chicago mayor. Let's hope he's a one-term one as well.

Time is running short. Let's get moving.

1 comment:

  1. Until someone steps up and throws their hat in the ring, Chicago's Fascist Mayor in Democrat's clothing will continue to be the boss in town. Personally, I think Ald. Fioretti would make a great candidate to run against Rahm but I haven't heard him express a strong desire to run.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.