|Kennedy and Rahm at Wolf Point : "We like investing here," Kennedy said. "Every time we attract a new resident to our Downtown, we make a contribution to strengthen the social fabric of Chicago."|
Some of my liberal friends tell me I've been too hard on Chris Kennedy.
He's a "progressive," they say, and they're quick to remind me that he recently broke with party hacks by leveling criticism at Mayor Rahm Emanuel
over the continuing push-out of thousands of black families from Chicago. He did indeed. But more on that later.
I've posted several times
on this blog offering reasons, personal and political, why I can't vote for Kennedy in the Democratic primary. Yes, I would probably hold my nose and vote for him in a race against Rauner. But I would likely vote for Satan himself in that unlikely case.
But after reading the Sun-Times editorial
this morning, accusing Kennedy of "playing the race card" and of throwing "Stalinist mud" on the mayor, I find myself inclined to trudge to Kennedy's defense.
Kennedy's criticism of Rahm Emanuel's “strategic gentrification plan” was spot-on or possibly understated. Emanuel and previous mayors (before and after Harold Washington
) share major responsibility, along with the big banks and real estate developers and manipulators, for the black exodus.
Can anyone deny that Rahm has stepped up school privatization and the erosion of public space? Can anyone reasonably deny the increasing gentrification of targeted black communities, under-funding or shutting down city services, mass closings of public schools and health clinics in black neighborhoods?
Not to mention the mayor's culpability in the cover-up of police killing in the Laquan McDonald case and others.
“I believe that black people are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally by a strategy that involves disinvestment in communities being implemented by the city administration, and I believe Rahm Emanuel is the head of the city administration and therefore needs to be held responsible for those outcomes,” Kennedy said during a news conference about gun violence in North Lawndale.
Of course,there are deeper systemic reasons for the reverse migration, having to do with deindustrialization and the disappearance of good-paying union jobs, as well as the easy flow of guns and drugs into the neighborhoods. But all this has been going on nationally for decades and accounts in large measure for the great demographic shifts taking place, and the whitenization of the cities. I wouldn't put all of that on Rahm--but he deserves his share.
All Kennedy did was tell us what we already knew, and no credible observer would deny it. Kennedy, for his own reasons, just put it all out there. And what are those reasons?
I suspect that he's targeted Rahm, not for personal reasons as the Sun-Times claims, but to gain a political edge in a tightening gov's race. I'm sure any one of the candidates, after looking at the mayor's plummeting poll numbers, would rather run against Rahm or better yet, against Trump, than against each other.
Yes, there's obvious hypocrisy and opportunism on Kennedy's part. He's learned it from the best. As Hank Williams, Jr.
,would say, "It's a family tradition."
Columnist Mary Mitchell points out
that Kennedy was one of the mayor's biggest supporters when Rahm ran against Chuy Garcia
and that Kennedy family downtown real estate deals played a role in the city's gentrification.
Mitchell points to a video showing Kennedy, framed by shots of cranes and renderings of a luxury high-rise tower, comparing Emanuel to Joe Kennedy.
“He saw something in Chicago that he thought was extraordinary … It had stable and powerful political leadership, and it had a confident group of business leaders … Those factors were at work 60 years ago, and now with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, they are still true in Chicago today,” Kennedy said at the time.
At the groundbreaking for the Wolf Point project, Kennedy praised the billion-dollar investment being made in the downtown core of Chicago. Wolf Point is a joint venture between the Kennedy family and three other entities.
“We’ve added 50,000 people to the downtown core in the last few years, which makes it one of the fastest growing residences anywhere in the United States,” Kennedy said then.
Meanwhile, low-income Chicagoans living in areas surrounding the downtown core were being routed from CHA’s public housing.
Yes, Kennedy's attack on Rahm is an obvious pitch for black votes, votes which may well decide this election. I'm glad someone's pitching there. He's so far tried to appeal to African-American voters, focusing on the issue of gun violence, educational equity, and property taxation in black neighborhoods.
But the S-T editorial is nothing but a naked and shameful racist (who says, "playing the race card" anymore?) and red-baiting (Stalinist? Really?) defense of the mayor. I was hoping for better with the change in ownership and leadership of the paper. Silly me.