At the end of February Chicago will yet again elect a new mayor. Whoever he or she is, it will be the 79th time Chicago has marched to the polls to vote for a mayor to run the City. Since the election of William Butler Ogden in 1837 there have been two black mayors and one female, the others of course were "white guys." They have been compared to circus clowns, crooks, bosses, dopes, and scores of other labels too numerous to print. Please forgive me but some of those labels were right on the money.
One guy was only mayor for 8 days on an interim basis, another for 2 years, and of course we have had the Daleys both father and son who held the position for 42 years with Richard M. Daley, out-distancing his father Richard J. Daley (who died in office) by one year. At last count the list of eager candidates has been reduced to 17 hopefuls who are still on the ballet with one choosing to remove his name but is still running as a write in candidate.
As predicted the bloody dash for power is in full force. Like a pack of rabid raccoons the gloves are off and the mud slinging is front and center. From the big names to the practically unknown, rest assured if you picked your nose in public or were ever guilty of flatulence at the wrong moment it will be seized upon and the world will soon know. Some of the more amusing themes that are being played out is the sudden call for the renaming of the City's most recognizable expressway for former President Barack Obama by one of the mayoral wanna be's William Daley.
After 57 years, the Dan Ryan which was named after a County politician, suddenly becomes a political football. The blowback was immediate and furious. Several of the other candidates have accused the brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley and the son of Richard J. Daley of pandering to try to get the black votes. Not to be outdone, another mayoral hopeful Robert Fioretti held a press conference to call for the renaming of the Richard J. Daley Center to the Barack Obama Civic center. The Clown car is almost at capacity.
In the meantime back at the bottom of the Well, and still digging, several of the candidates have found it politically expedient to announce that they will immediately fire Chicago's Police Superintendent if elected. I'm wondering if somehow they are trying to lay blame and trying to convince the City's voters that Chicago's monstrous crime and violence problem is Superintendent Eddie Johnson's fault.
One would have to be inside the Clown car looking out to come to such a conclusion. Rest assured Chicago's horrendous crime and violence was present long before Johnson took the top cop job from another mayoral scape goat, Garry McCarthy, himself a candidate for mayor and prominent slinger of his own revisionist history on his crime fighting tactics. As happened with McCarthy the same will happen when Eddie Johnson passes into history, the crime will remain. Instead of trying to establish a sound initiative on solving the gang fueled violence it's almost embarrassing to hear the simple solution of fire the Superintendent.
It's not only difficult for people but it's just as difficult for the press to wade through all the charges, accusations, and ideas for much needed changes on so many fronts when it's coming from so many ambitious power seeking candidates. Chicago and voters across America are punch drunk listening to candidates make promises during campaigns that they have no intention of keeping. "Read my lips, no new taxes", " I promise to put 1,000 policeman on the street," this sugar tax will solve the County's money problems, "this war in Vietnam will stop the Communists from taking over the Far East" "this parking meter deal is one of the greatest deals for Chicago Tax payers", "you can keep your own insurance provider", "crime is down in Chicago," even if you are paying attention believing eager, power hungry candidates is a fools game at best.
Listening to all the candidates who are running for Mayor is a dizzying task indeed. None of the Mayoral hopefuls are experts on all things, no humans are, but it seems that the majority of them are trying to convince us that they indeed possess the skills to solve Chicago's multitude of problems. It compares to teaching anatomy using stick figures. I did hear one thing from one of the candidates and there is zero chance that he will get elected since he was the one who had his name removed from the ballet but remains a write in. We can only hope that what he said gets heard by someone. In all my 33 years experience dealing with criminal behavior in Chicago I never heard a more sensible plan then his.
Ja Mal Green, a 33-year-old neighborhood activist, is calling for changing the mentality and not breeding criminals from one generation to another. Two glaring things stand out in his plan. Youth accountability services and guardian accountability services which will work in unison. Of course the key word in those worthy plans is ACCOUNTABILITY, by both the offending youths and guardians.
We have to end the cycle of the blame game going from the police and the community and hold those responsible for the seemingly never ending cycle of blame. Cops and more cops are not the answer, filling the jails has not worked, in fact some studies have shown it to make things worse. Most likely at least in this election for mayor, Ja Mal will pass through history but I'm hoping at least his ideas are given a very close study. I'm convinced he's on to something. Attention candidates for mayor of Chicago you are all talking, but are you listening? It can be a good thing. There is a reason why Illinois and Chicago are losing people by the thousands every year. The enclosed photo tells a grim story. Not enough politicians listening and way too many talking out of both sides of their mouths .
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