That's what's on everyone's minds these days. Everyone's worried that if Tiny Dancer doesn't get another term, Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is going to bomb out the central city. That he'll put the famous Millennium Park Bean in Englewood. That he'll use our hard-earned tax dollars to build the tallest building in the world in Little Village--for the poor. That downtown TIF money might be used to run a soup kitchen Back of the Yards instead of paying the wealthiest builders in the world to build here. And that the Chicago Symphony will be turned into public housing and the musicians sent to Highland Park.
And we'll go to hell in a hand basket. Not to mention Block 37.
That's what you're thinking, right? That's what Rahmbo has you thinking, isn't it? As a resident of the South Loop, I have to admit that some of the strong propaganda has worried even me. But I can tell you firmly and objectively and thoughtfully that anyything good that's happened in downtown Chicago since Rahm Emanuel got in has nothing to do with Rahm Emanuel. It's happened in spite of him.
He takes the credit but others do the work. He has actually stymied a healthy downtown by ignoring our soaring violent crime rate and ignoring people in the neighborhoods. He hasn't got a clue how to keep our "el" stations clean, the street lights consistently lit or get dormant buildings up and running.
Nothing bad will happen to Downtown Chicago if Chuy becomes our mayor. Downtown will get better, stronger, nicer and richer. As a "neighborhood guy," he knows the importance of a strong downtown in Chicago. He understands that resources spent downtown are resources spent on the city as a whole--to create jobs, recreational opportunities and tourism.
So rest assured.
He will, however, do one thing different: he'll bring everyone to the table and he'll be fair.
The way little big man goes about things--like an adrenaline-fueled nut case--Chicago is headed for third world city status. Where the rich eat their cake downtown and the servants live in the back...ignored, forgotten and in need. But told to eat their cake, too. Who wants to live in an unhealthy city like that?
Things will get done with Chuy--not with a vile temper, swear words and a yearning to be free in a few years to get to the next job like Rahm. Chuy will get things done with honey--and determination from his heart--a far more effective and real way of accomplishing things. He's committed. For the sake of the city. Not for the sake of his ego.
I maintain that we'd be a lot farther along in Chicago right now if we'd never elected Rahm. Everything he takes credit for on his watch was put into motion long before he got here--or is the result of others' efforts since. Not his ideas, not his work, not his shoe leather or his elbow grease. I have kept track.
About the only thing he's done on his watch downtown is scatter a bunch of goofy-looking white plastic barriers on the streets--ostensibly to protect bike riders. Not only has he created new and unusual hazards for bikers and pedestrians and motorists with this slipshod idea, he has ruined the beauty of some of the most historic streets in Chicago by ruining their original symmetry.
And bikers, don't start. I have absolutely nothing against bikes, green living, walking, using public transportation or anything else that reduces our carbon footprint; I haven't driven my own car for 15 years. And ComEd sends me a monthly newsletter that says I am among the most energy efficient of my neighbors. But let's be smart and fair and safe about bike culture. Not just flashy.
On Friday morning I went to the Chicago Loop Alliance annual meeting. That's a trade group that our city depends on, whether you realize it or not--for keeping downtown clean, viable and livable. That group is responsible for keeping us up there as a world class city. Not our dirty-mouthed and feckless mayor.
CLA has an important stake in the game. Their businesses, their livelihood and their future are on our downtown streets. They spend their resources cleaning the streets, beautifying them, picking up trash (25 tons last year), sending out ambassadors to help steer tourists in the right direction (16,500 times last year) and to get help for the mentally ill, the panhandlers and the homeless (12,300 interactions last year).
They also "activate" dormant areas with all sorts of cultural attractions and they have hard data saying that bringing people to Wacker and State, or to State and Van Buren, for example, for happenings actually translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent in the central city. Now that's yeoman's work. And they do it.
The current administration was briefly mentioned during the meeting's remarks for being cooperative, supportive, that sort of thing (and why shouldn't they be?) but you can completely rely on this fact: Chuy will be even more cooperative and supportive and that sort of thing--because he has a record for being so in every elected office he's served in. Right up to being Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's very effective floor leader.
Rahm, on the other hand, has a reputation as a foul-mouthed bully who lashes out if he doesn't get his way.
Who would you rather see win the election for mayor April 7?
By the way, early voting starts tomorrow (March 23).
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