Chicago overwhelmed with spineless saps

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Chicago serfs paying homage to King Daley

Put away all those references to Chicago as the brawling and gritty rough house of Nelson Algren, Mike Royko and Dick Butkus. Forget Carl Sandburg‘s timeless portrayal of Chicago as “the stormy, husky, brawling, city of the big shoulders.”

No
more. Chicago is wimp city. A city full of obsequious voters,
businesses and civic groups that have been repeatedly swindled, scammed
and hosed by local politicians. Yet, with each betrayal, the serfs
continue to grovel before such liege lords as Mayor Richard M. Daley
and House Speaker Michael Madigan and beg for more of the same. Nothing
is egregious enough to inspire insurrection by the city and state’s
vassals

How else can you explain that their lordships repeatedly
get away with endless stunts like the one they pulled last week in
Springfield? With great fanfare, the Illinois legislature passed and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign a “sweeping,” “first-ever” law limiting campaign contributions.

Yet,
it has a loophole so gaping that Madigan and other “leaders” could
drive all 177 members of the legislature plus every patronage worker in
Springfield through it, marching shoulder to shoulder. Despite the
limits placed on campaign contributions by individuals, businesses,
unions and political action committees, the legislation allows
legislative leaders (read: Madigan) to make unlimited contributions to
candidates in general elections.
It’s a green light for Madigan
to funnel arsenals of money that he controls as the state Democratic
chairman to his candidates. It assures unending servility from grateful
candidates, and explains why few lawmakers have the guts to challenge
his arrogant and destructive dictates. Instead of limiting Madigan’s
control, it increases it. That the “leadership” would have the gall to
call something so obviously self-serving reform is stupefying.

It’s
no better in Chicago. Daley now is fighting to keep a huge national
plastics industry convention from fleeing Chicago, its 40-year home.
The show brought in $95.3 million last June, but it appears the
exhibitors are fed up with the extravagant costs they must pay to
riggers, tradesmen and other organized workers at McCormick Place.
As the trade publication Plastics News reported, Daley met Wednesday in
his office with convention officials to plead with them to stay.

The
problem? As trade show exhibitor Tim Hanrahan explained in the
publication, it cost $345 to get four cases of Pepsi to his booth. “The
invoice breaks down to $254 for the four cases of Pepsi, a 21 percent
service charge, and a 10.25 percent Illinois state sales tax, a 3
percent Chicago soft drink tax, a tax on the service charge and a food
and beverage tax. Government taxes totaled $38.06, which is more than
the legitimate retail price of the soft drinks,” he said. “I could go
on. A $640 TV stand rental is another good example,” he said. “But you
get the point.”

Hanrahan gets the point, but do we? For the sake
of a special interest — organized labor in this case — the body
politic seems willing to drive away business that brings dollars into
town. To finance the greed and corruption endemic here, we tolerate
punishing taxes on the very businesses we plead with to stay.

On
it goes. The Reader last week revealed that Daley keeps an
off-the-books budget that shows how hundreds of million of dollars are
spent in the city’s 160 tax increment finance districts. The budget’s
so secret that not even aldermen (much less citizens) get to see the
whole thing. The TIFs, without oversight or review, drain hundreds of
millions of dollars from city property tax revenues for projects that
benefit special interests. Home values drop, but assessments and taxes
go up; we shrug and ask, “What can you do?”

Chicagoans are saps.
From the embedded corruption to the insider deals; from the flouting of
anti-patronage court decisions to huge project cost overruns; from a
city budget that proposes to sell out future generations by dipping
into city assets to endless tax and fee increases, Chicagoans have
shown a tolerance of their own ruination that borders on psychosis.

The
corporate hierarchy is so enamored with the “stability” that Daley and
his oligarchy imposes on Chicago that it can’t see the damage being
done to its own long-term interests. The toady City Council passes in a
blink of an eye an incredibly disadvantageous (only for taxpayers)
parking meter deal, because its members are told to.

Chicagoans
have become such pantywaists that the Roykos, Sandburgs and Algrens no
longer would recognize the place. Chicago, the city of stooped
shoulders.

This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune

Comments

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  • Agreed,whoever voted for daley in the last election is a mindless sap.

  • Dennis,
    Great column today. It mirrored a discussion I had with a best friend just yesterday (also of Chicago).
    You can't blame the "politicopaths" as they suffer a dillusion that they know what's best for the electorate. Plus, what a "cushy" job and just look at the benefits!
    The problem is, a republic must rely on the intelligence of its electorate (or at least that they are reasonably informed) as well as their passion for seeking and supporting thoughtful, ethical leadership; and voting out the crooks and idiots.
    Unfortunately, the electorate in large part is not informed and in too many cases is (be nice now)unintelligent. (I put that as nicely as I could.)
    Damn our ambivalent, ill-informed selves. There's no other way to explain our self-important, unethical and unproductive leadership.
    We have absolute power to vote them out but fail to do so time and time again.
    (The best example in our city is Todd Stroger. How in the world do you explain that?!?)

  • Finally! Someone with a little bit more pull than me has written what I've been saying for years. Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois voters are pathetic saps!

  • Why is King Richard still in power? Because Chicago voters are pathetic saps. He blustered all about how he was confused about the recent property tax bills. This from a man who has been paid from property taxes for 30 years! He doesn't understand how property taxes are collected? Please.
    Todd Stroger is another story. Why does the black electorate allow this moron to represent them? The infantile "keep the seat" mentality of the black electorate is about to see a huge negative backswing.
    And why do we allow Mike Madigan to retain a stranglehold on Springfield?
    Chicago, Crook County, and Illinois are international laughingstocks because of these backward thinking, corrupt men. As voters, we will soon have a chance to rid ourselves of them. But we won't. You know why?
    Because we're a bunch of pathetic saps.

  • You always write an excellent column, but this one is particularly and appropriately brutal in your analysis of both the venality of the city government and the acquiescence of the voting public.

    The hard-working sensible element of the population is overwhelmed by the bleeding heart liberal elite and the ignorant underclass.

    My son frequents a small Greek restaurant. The owner introduced him to his mother by saying, "He's one of us." "Oh, he's Greek?" she asked. "No, he's a Republican," answered her son.

    Definitely a smaller minority than the size of the Greek population of Chicago!

  • We can blame ourselves but we must vote for whoever runs against him.Then if that person doesn't do what we like vote them out too.Stop playing the race card and stop whining about choices,just vote him out and move on to the next crook.Mike Madigan would be a good start.Then maybe we could find a journalist to hold all those elected accountable in the printed news.

  • Is there a way the voters can get the recall vote on the ballot for a referendum?All elected officials.This can be done and should be done.But if there is one more chicago item for sale it should be city hall....oh yea,it already is..................

  • My brother-in-law who is the master of "one-upmanship" has finally (and reluctantly)admitted that Illinois is more corrupt than his home state, Georgia.

    Every day we are assaulted with more and more outrageous situations involving Mayor shortshanks, Todd-the-Dolt and Pat-the-Wimp.

    It is truly discouraging and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it, except maybe move to Australia.

    Who was it who said "The only way for evil men to succeed is for good men to do nothing"?

    My wife and I will get through this nonsense: city, county, state and country. It's our children who will pay the price and bear the brunt of the cynical corruption at all levels of government.

  • having worked for the city , ascivil service, and worked at both mc places, i often wondered when the city was going to dirty in their own mess kit, treating the companies who get screwed at evey show, and then have to moan and groan when the goose is killed . been a union man for a loooooooooooooooong time, to me the golden goose is to be respected not abused. the picnic is coming to an end for many who suck a the trough, if this wake up call does not make some big waves, then the union guys deserve to drown in their own greed.

  • In reply to bilme134:

    If your a long term union guy you then know that the regular people that work for Mcpier are not real tradesman. There connected lackeys the same as city workers. They may have worked on the outside, but there connected or know someone, that's the only way you get those jobs. Lumping union people in the same category as these slugs is wrong and insulting. When I work I have to produce or I get laid off, period. I get paid when I work, thats it. No vacation, no sick days, that's it. The city and there employees are all a connected patronage army that is connected to all the trade unions through name and wage scale only. They get no benefits or retirement through the unions, its all through the city. City workers get to retire when they have 30 years service, that may come at 52. I have to go until 62 or 65 depending on years. Any bureaucracy state, local or federal are loaded with dead weight, please don't lump me in with them.

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