Thursday, April 25, 2019

Peter Cunningham's empty advice to Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot's landslide victory represented a clean break from the politics of Daley and Cunningham

Peter Cunningham should save his advice to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot. In fact, after his miserable performance running Bill Daley's disastrous law-and-order campaign for mayor, one would think that he would show some contrition and either disappear for a while or maybe start asking the mayor-elect for some advice.

You may recall that despite Daley's heavily-favored (by big business) and heavily-financed ($9M) campaign, he could only muster 14% of the vote. For those who keep track of such things, that came out to a whopping $111.21 per vote.

Yet here is Cunningham with a full page in today's Sun-Times offering a package of five cliche-ridden suggestions that Lightfoot would do well to flush or stash in her circular file.

They begin with admonitions to think small and forget all those highfalutin ideas and social-justice and equality and stick to things like garbage collection. 
  • No matter how bold your vision, it won’t get done if you don’t first pick up the garbage, fix the potholes and deliver basic city services.
  • You can’t reach for the sky unless you first meet the floor of expectations.
  • You don’t begin dinner with dessert.
Here's the worst:
...the black, gay, female agenda did not get Lori Lightfoot elected and won’t address Chicago’s broader needs.
Yes, he really said that. Did you even know there was a "black, gay, female agenda"? Perhaps Cunningham can produce it for us.

Lightfoot won the election with 74% of the vote, winning every ward and every demographic in the city. She did it mainly by distinguishing herself from the old, corrupt, racist machine politics of the Daleys, Burkes and Emanuels -- all Cunningham clients.

So what does Cunningham have to offer in the way of advice for dealing with corruption in this, the most corrupt city in the nation? Fugget about it.

According to Cunningham:
...reducing corruption won’t do much to enhance the quality of life for people. It won’t bring jobs to struggling communities on the South and West Sides. It won’t improve the public schools. It won’t make our neighborhoods any safer.
Here's some advice from me. Whenever you hear someone like Cunningham telling you to minimize the fight against political corruption, check your wallet and check out the newspapers for upcoming stories about upcoming indictments.

It's exactly the struggling communities on the South and West Sides that have been hit the hardest by the "corruption tax," police malpractice and school scandals. As for improving public schools, think about Rahm's two previous school chiefs, one who is currently doing time in prison for corruption, and the other forced to resign over conflicts of interest.

Asking Lightfoot to soft pedal her anti-corruption stance is curious indeed, coming as it does on the eve of the Burke trial, the Solis wire-wearing scandal and the fallout that could reach all the way up the city hall ladder.

The last time I had to respond to Peter Cunningham's wrong-headed advice was back in 2016 when he warned us all that the fight against poverty and racial segregation was just "too politically difficult and financially expensive." His current advice to the mayor-elect has that same hollow ring to it and sounds to me like a plea to return to the old patronage politics of his previous clients.

Cunningham may have a point about the importance getting the garbage collected and the potholes fixed. But even the delivery of city services, especially community policing, is conditioned upon the mayor having a larger vision of equity and justice. Just think about Rahm's mass closing of public schools, libraries, and health clinics mainly in the black community. Think about the Laquan McDonald shooting. They were some the very things that led to his political downfall. Let that be a warning to the new mayor.

Lori Lightfoot's landslide election victory along with those of so many new progressives in the city council signifies a much larger mandate for change from the old patronage politics that Cunningham and his clients represent. He should save his advice. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.