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Emanuel versus Garcia: The first debate was a tie

"It depends."

Those two words hung in the air. "It depends."

Chicago Tribune photo.

Last night's mayoral debate was finished right there and then. Well, it should have been over. The rest of the hour was a futile exercise in the mediocrity of entertainment. What NBC Chicago calls journalism.

"It depends," was Chuy Garcia's answer to how he would "...be able to write a check for the mandatory $550 million payment to the police and fire pension funds."

It depends on what, Mr. Garcia? The check is due. It is due soon. What does it depend on?

Garcia bobbed and weaved during the debate. His response to fiscal questions were tiresome. Audits. Open the books. Transparency.

The city budget is online for all to see. The big thick hard copy with all the line items is available at city hall. The budget is open and transparent.

Garcia's experts with no expertise should have obtained copies weeks ago. If they did, they should have perused them line by line instead of using them as door stops and boat anchors.

Garcia knows this. He bobbed and weaved. Danced the dope a rope. Stung like a butterfly and buzzed like a bee.

Emanuel's best line of the hour was, "I have a plan. Chuy has a commission." Again, the debate should have ended right there and then. Chicago was subjected to watching paint dry.

The mayor stumbled too. His counter punches were not hard enough. He should have knocked Chuy out in the first fifteen minutes. Instead, both candidates kept each other on the ropes or danced around the jabs. No solid punches landed.

That hour of mediocrity had to be filled somehow. A tiddlywink competition would be more exciting.

Chuy injected the cheap tiresome propaganda memes, "millionaires," "billionaires," and "downtown". It is surprising he did not use "Mayor 1%" to refer to Emanuel. Maybe next time.

Garcia does not understand that Chicago was built and is a city based on commerce, trade, and industry. There would be no neighborhoods without them. There would be no private sector jobs. Chicago would be North Korea without "downtown".

Mayor Emanuel had four years to undo twenty years of political malpractice and fiscal malfeasance. That is an impossible task. Garcia offered no solutions or answers. Garcia believes he can snap his fingers and the problems will be solved. Worse, too many voters believe that.

Both candidates traipsed around how the big bills coming due would get paid. Where would the revenue come from? What further cuts need to be made? Who is going to feel the pain? Swallow the bitter pill?

On public safety, Chuy Garcia threw out a laughable concept, restorative justice. In essence, restorative justice brings criminals and victims together to join hands and sing Kumbaya.

Chuy Garcia's neighborhood guy persona is wearing thin. Richard J. Daley was a neighborhood guy. Michael Bilandic was a neighborhood guy. Harold Washington was a neighborhood guy. We all are neighborhood guys.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Downtown and the Gold Coast are neighborhoods. So are the South Loop and Ravenswood. Englewood and Lawndale are neighborhoods.

Emanuel's cold clinical persona did not help him. That persona is his main problem. Every time he gets in front of a microphone to talk issues he turns into a cold technocrat. He exudes little humanity. He appears heartless and soulless. Perception is the new reality. The mayor is not perceived as a passionate or compassionate person.

Chicago only learned one thing from this debate. Chicago has deep seated problems and Chicago does not know if either candidate has a real solution.

The debate was a tie. Dead even. Maybe next time they could show some fireworks.

On another note. How many so-called responsible journalists are using former alderman Dick Simpson's expertise on the upcoming mayoral election? Who is looking to the professor for talking points or expert opinion? According to the Illinois Board of elections, Mr. Simpson donated $5000 on November 14th to Chuy Garcia's campaign. It would be irresponsible and unethical for journalists to consult with the former alderman.

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