Thursday, June 08, 2006

Politics as usual – again

In San Diego, the good citizens wonder where all the controversy will end. A recent New York Times article claimed that San Diegans wondered if they could ever trust their government again, and felt that they’d lost the luster of being a model city.

In Chicago, any such feeling disappeared around 1890. For years, Chicago has been giving the country how-to lessons on corruption – from Big Bill Thompson, who on the one hand portrayed himself as a reformer, while having the other squarely in Capone’s pocket, to the current mayor Richard Daley, who’s attempting to downplay controversy surrounding three different scandals.

Corruption and Chicago have gone hand-in-hand so long that natives quip that the city’s motto is “what’s in it for me?” While standing in line at the alderman’s office recently, a woman was asked, “Is this the line for the alderman’s office?” She answered, “Depends. If you want a city sticker or permit, yes. If you’re dropping off a bribe, you can go right in.”

Given that attitude, it’s no surprise that few people are up in arms over what’s happening in the Cook County Commissioner’s office. 76-year-old John Stroger won the primary in March for the position he’s held for around the last 10 years – despite the fact that he had suffered a debilitating stroke a few weeks before, and was in the hospital at the time of the election.

Now the battle to succeed Stroger – who’s recovering in an extended care facility – has been joined. The first shot was fired – naturally – by Stroger’s own son, who volunteered to fill in if Dad was unable to competently do his job after the November election (he’s expected to easily win). Soon other African-American politicians (Stroger is African-American) jumped on the bandwagon, aiming for their shot at glory. Even Jesse Jackson – junior, not senior, whom no one in Chicago takes seriously – piped in his opinion.

For now, Stroger insists on staying in the job he’s had a virtual lock on – so much so, that he was able to rename Cook County Hospital for himself while still in office. But it’s a long summer, and there’s plenty more time for political grandstanding.

No comments: