Category Archives: Richard M. Daley

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” — Mark Twain

PAY ‘EM: DAY 2

First things first: The Chicago Teachers Union strike is not about the children. So let’s stop that silly, mawkish pretense this instant.

The teachers are going on strike because management wants to squeeze their pay and benefits, extend their work day, and expand class sizes. These are workplace issues, not We love children and only want what’s best for them issues.

If teachers and management wanted only what’s best for the children, the city would be throwing bushels of money at the teachers in an effort to get them back in the classroom and the teachers would be telling them not to bother because they (the teachers) would be more than happy to work for peanuts.

The kids are getting screwed royally in this mess. They’re missing the continuum of daily attendance in school. It may take weeks for them to get back in their groove, depending on how long this strike lasts.

Parents who work are getting screwed, too. Tens of thousands of families in Chicago are scrambling to make arrangements to make sure their kids aren’t roaming the streets all day while teachers walk the picket lines.

Very little benefit is going to come out of this craziness for anybody other than the teachers.

And that’s okay.

People get hurt in strikes. Customers and clients and vendors and and everybody else who depends on an industry starts hurting when that industry is hit by a strike.

One of the potential hammers either side has in a work stoppage is the collective anger of all those aggrieved parties. If a striking union plays its cards right, customers and clients and all the rest will start putting heat on management to make a deal.

The union has to control the PR side of the contretemps. In this case, the Chicago Teachers Union has to convey the message that its members are not rich, they’re not asking for wheel barrels full of precious metals, and — for pity’s sake — all you out there need them.

If the union does it right, it’ll walk away from this with nice raises for the teachers, a manageable workday, and class sizes significantly shy of the capacity of the Wrigley Field bleachers.

And if the kids and the families of Chicago get their knees scraped in the process, so be it.

I’m behind the teachers 100 percent.

I only ask them and some of their supporters not to try to bullshit me or anyone else. Teachers don’t go on strikes because they’re thinking of nothing but the children. They go on strikes because they’re worried about paying their mortgages and dreaming of sending their kids to college.

Nothing wrong with that as a casus belli.

WORKING

Here are the highest-paid careers in the United States this year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Pharmacist — $112,160 average salary a year
  • Air traffic controller — $114,460
  • Sales manager — $116,860
  • Airline pilots — $118,070
  • Financial manager — $120,450
  • Industrial-organization psychologist — $124,160
  • IT systems manager — $125,660
  • Marketing manager — $126,190
  • Natural science manager — $128,230
  • Architectural and engineering manager — $129,350
  • Lawyer — $130,490
  • Petroleum engineer — $138,980
  • CEO — $176,550
  • Dentist — $161,750 to $204,670
  • Doctor — $168,650 to $234,950

Who’d have a problem if teachers ranked anywhere in that list?

Me? I’d be thrilled to see teachers knock sales managers or financial managers off. And industrial-organization psychologists? They’re getting paid that much dough just to delve into people’s heads so they can make the workforce more pliant and submissive?!

Not only would I help the teachers throw them out, I’d give those sons of bitches kicks in the ass on their way out the door.

ONE MORE THING

Take a look at this luxury baby stroller:

The Nicest Ride On The Block

I don’t know how many people own one of these baby limousines. I’m willing to bet, though, that tens of of thousands of parents — maybe hundreds of thousands — would buy one if they could.

Now, how many of those people do you think want Chicago’s teachers to stop making trouble and go back to work?

I’M NOT FINISHED YET

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his kids to a private school.

That, my friends, is an outrage.

He is saying, essentially, that the schools — his schools — aren’t good enough for his kids.

The Emanuel Gang

Mayor Richard M. Daley and his old man, Richard J., both sent their kids to private schools as well.

What would people say if Bill Gates, while he was running things at Microsoft, carried a MacBook around with him wherever he went?

Mark it: The day I’m acclaimed King of the United States, I’ll decree that all municipal officials must send their kids to their local public schools.

They just might start seeing things a little differently.

OLD TIME (REALLY, REALLY OLD TIME) POLITICS

The technology already exists to generate video images of dead politicians and celebrities saying precisely what you want them to say in real time.

Big Think contributor Dominic Basulto speculates on the 2016 Republican National Convention when the star of the show will be Ronald Reagan lambasting Hillary Clinton or Julian Castro or Alec Baldwin or whoever will be the Dem standard-bearer.

Click For Full Article

Of course, my feeling is the GOP would be more accurately served by a video image of Homo Neanderthalensis grunting his distaste for women who enjoy sex and his worship of a psycho-sadistic god.

“Sandra Fluke Has Sex!”

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton

WORKING MOM?

Look, I don’t care if Ann and Mitt Romney had ten kids, Hilary Rosen was right.

All the corporate media pundits are saying the Rosen flap is a win for the Romney campaign. Maybe. I don’t know.

Perhaps a significant number of middle class and poor mothers around this holy land will say, Golly gee, I raise a family and I know it’s a tough business.

It is — for them. For Ann Romney it was not.

Do you think she spent countless hours on her knees scrubbing the toilet?

Did she struggle trying to put together a healthy dinner for a family of seven on a budget more amenable to a family of two or three?

Did she ever have to take a bus to her kids’ school for a parent-teacher conference?

Did she keep her fingers crossed that her 14-year-old car wouldn’t crap out suddenly?

Did she wear tattered underwear because her family’s health insurance premiums precluded her from buying new ones?

Whenever her kids bawled or sassed or puked or spilled orange juice all over the kitchen floor, was she the only responsible adult around?

Or were there any paid helpers around to suffer the abuse or pick up the pieces?

Did she ever have to sew up holey socks?

Nope

Did she ever check the mail every single day for weeks at a time in the hope her federal income tax return check had finally come?

Were gangs a problem at the exclusive schools she sent her kids to?

Did she lie awake at night wondering how she could prevent one or more of her kids from dropping out of high school?

Did she ever worry about her credit card bill?

How often did she shrug her shoulders at the suggestion of sex because she was too exhausted from chasing kids around all day?

Really, did she ever have any of the worries, did she ever suffer any of the ordeals, that the vast majority of American moms have had to endure?

I know the answer and you do too.

So let’s cut the bullshit: Ann Romney has never had to work a day in her life.

HAROLD

Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of one of the weirdest municipal elections in memory.

On April 12th, 1983, Harold Washington, US Congressman from Illinois’ 1st District, was elected mayor of Chicago.

He was the first black man to attain that office in what had long been called the most racially segregated city in America.

Yep

My hometown had been run from 1955 though the end of 1976 by Richard J. Daley, the last of the big city machine mayors. As a little kid I actually thought Mayor Daley was a single word that meant any city’s boss. I recall watching the news one day and seeing that New York had elected a new chief executive. I concluded, therefore, that John V. Lindsay was that city’s mayordaley.

Chicago’s Big Cheese For 21 Years

Then Daley dropped dead in his doctor’s office a few days before Christmas in the Bicentennial Year. The City’ Council’s President Pro Tem announced he’d be the acting mayor until a special election could be held, per the city’s charter.

Well, the City Council wasn’t going to let that happen because its President Pro Tem, Wilson Frost, was a black man. Hell, the city just might slide into Lake Michigan if a black man became mayor, if only an acting one. So the Council did what it does best — it made a closed door, illegal deal to select a harmless alderman named Michael Bilandic mayor.

Bilandic, naturally, won the special election and seemed a lock to retain the office in the next regular election until a 20-inch snowstorm paralyzed the city days before the 1979 primary. Chicagoans blamed Bilandic for the massive expressway and el train snarls that resulted and threw him out in favor of a feisty former Daley department head named Jane Byrne.

Bilandic And His Snow

Even though she possessed the wrong genitals in certain Chicagoans’ views, many liked Byrne because she was tough as nails. For instance, on election day 1979, she phoned Alderman Fred Roti, the Mob’s man in City Hall and a notorious ballot box stuffer. Look Fred, she said to him, I’ve got a good chance to win this thing. All I ask is that you and your boys give me a fair count. If you do, I’ll be fair with you. If you don’t, I’ll cut your balls off.

It was Fred Roti, by the way, who proudly told this story again and again.

Janey Was Tougher Than Roti

Anyway, by the time Byrne came up for reelection in 1983, Harold Washington had thrown his hat into the ring. Most observers figured he was being silly. The voters of Chicago would never in a million years elect a black man mayor, they reasoned.

Then a strange thing happened. Daley’s kid, Richie, the State’s Attorney, started thinking the mayor’s office was a family heirloom that was rightfully his. He, too, entered the Democratic primary race.

Voters living in the vast Northwest and Southwest sides of the city (read: white people) began suffering from the vapors. By good god in heaven, they shrieked, that dumb Daley kid’s gonna split the white vote!

Old Man Daley’s Kid

But Richie Daley wouldn’t drop out even when polls showed him neck and neck with Byrne.

Lo and behold, on the day of the primary Daley and Byrne canceled each other out and Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination.

You never saw such hand-wringing in “The City that Works.”

The Republicans, meanwhile, hustled to put up their own candidate for mayor. Previously, the words “Republican candidate for mayor of Chicago” were merely a more verbose way of saying “loser.” But the heretofore moribund GOP, sensing their first real shot at the office in half a century, selected a member of the Illinois House named Bernie Epton to go up against Washington.

Bernie Epton

The idea that a Republican — and a Jew — could become mayor would have been laughable only two months before the general election. But the city’s white electorate was far more terrified of a black man than a Jew. Come election day, Washington won by the narrowest of margins.

Harold was a fascinating fellow. Personally charismatic, he was a master at pulling a reporter or a fellow pol close while shaking his hand and whispering some pearl of wisdom in his ear. It was as though Washington trusted him and him alone with what he had to say. I’d been pulled close by Washington a couple of times; the gesture made me feel like the biggest shot in the room — next to him.

Washington also had served time in the federal joint before becoming mayor. The IRS claimed he hadn’t filed income tax returns for 19 years, although it admitted he’d paid his taxes in full. Many wondered why such an astute lawyer (he was the only black man to graduate from the Northwestern University School of Law 1952 class) could be so dumb as to not file his returns.

Some Washington biographers claim to have evidence that Washington’s daddy-o was the South Side’s premier policy wheel operator (“policy” was the black ghetto’s illegal lottery game). According to these biographers, Washington himself earned a bit of spare cash from his father’s racket and decided it was better to risk being charged with failure to file rather than declaring income from a criminal gambling operation.

Typical Chicago Policy Wheel

After a brief marriage during World War II — he served in the Philippines with the US Army Air Corps — Washington remained unmarried until he died. Republican operatives during the 1983 election floated the rumor that Washington was gay. When that didn’t prove effective enough, they began whispering that he’d actually gone to jail on a child molesting rap.

Washington’s supporters countered that he was a great ladies’ man. One backer later claimed that if you put all the women Harold had slept with in one corner of City Hall, the structure would sink five inches into the ground.

Harold changed City Hall after his election. While he was mayor, the Hall became a festive place, filled with blacks and Puerto Ricans and more women than would ever be seen there under previous bosses.

Under him, City Hall became a mirror of the city itself.

Harold Waves To Well-Wishers After The Votes Were Counted

Washington was reelected in spring 1987. Then, a few days after Thanksgiving that year, while in a meeting with his press secretary, Alton Miller, Washington, sitting behind his desk, dropped a pencil. He bent over to pick it up but, to Miller’s puzzlement, remained bent over. Miller got up to see what was wrong but Washington was already dead. His heart, enlarged due to his widening girth and high blood pressure, had simply given out.

Even in death, Washington inspired delirious creativity in his supporters as well as his enemies. Certain Republicans claimed the Cook County Coroner had found cocaine in his body during his autopsy. His backers countered that he’d been poisoned to death by unnamed white people.

Here’s my favorite Harold Washington story. I heard this from someone in his administration who was there when it happened.

Washington was in a meeting with three people. It was getting late in the afternoon and the four hadn’t eaten lunch yet so Harold suggested they send out for sandwiches. One by one, each of his three underlings specified which sandwich he wanted with one of them jotting the information down. Finally, they got around to Harold. He said, “That sounds good. I’ll try that.”

The note-taker asked for clarification: “You mean that last sandwich?”

“No,” Harold Washington responded. “All three of them.”

He died fat and happy.

WRITERS READING

Hey, get yourself over to the Windfall Dance Studio this evening at six o’clock. Bloomington’s own master-ess keyboard clacker, my pal Joy Shayne Laughter, is reading a terrific short story there. (You know, the word mistress just didn’t work for me there.)

Joy’s story is called “The Last.” It’s based on the recollections of her great-grandfather who, as a young man, left Indiana for the wild’s of Kansas to take a job as one of the last of the wolf-poisoners. Honest, that was a position in great demand back a century and more ago. Cattle ranchers wanted to protect their livestock from predatory wolves so they hired guys to set out wolf bait laced with deadly poison.

Joy’s reading is part of the ongoing series “Early Drafts” featuring works in progress read aloud by local writers. The incomparable Tony Brewer is scheduled to spout some poetry tonight as well. There’ll be music, an act from a play, and other arty-fun things.

Windfall is located at 14th and Dunn.

BE PATIENT

If you’ve read this far, thanks. Please bear with me. I’ve got to post right now even though I haven’t selected and placed my pix yet. If I don’t get up off this seat, Soma Coffee’s gonna charge me rent.

I’ll have images up later today.

Okay, you’ve got pix.

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