Friday, February 25, 2005

Yeah, well. Whaddya gonna do?

Some people think there's some corruption "over by 'dere". Recent headlines:

Christian Science Monitor: (Amanda Paulson): Chicago fights corruption's long shadow - again

NBC 5 News: CDOT Workers Charged In Hired Truck Scandal - 2 Former City Workers, 3 Others Accused Of Asphalt Scheme

Chicago Sun Times (Fran Spielman): Park District reviews restaurant's lease:

The Sun-Times reported this week the lucrative restaurant lease was awarded to Matthew A. O'Malley, a businessman who got a top Park District official pregnant during negotiations. The newspaper also reported that O'Malley lined up a host of clout-heavy investors, including Daley's friends and neighbors.
Daily Southtown (Editorial): Daley's Reforms are long overdue:
THE ISSUE: Hounded by scandals at city hall, Mayor Daley takes measures he says will ensure clean government.
WE SAY: The mayor's crackdown is politically motivated and comes much too late.
Politically motivated? Ya' think? (Crackdown? Are you KIDDING, or maybe just very young?)

From A Tale of Two Daleys, Opinion Journal, by Joseph Epstien. (This is an outstanding article. Go read it. We'll wait.):
Rep. Jackson is on record as saying, "I am concerned about the reports of rampant corruption and fraud and abuse in the city. I'm interested in our city restoring honesty and integrity in our government." (Pause here for chortle followed by yawn.)
Chortle? Yawn? Why, oh why, is Mr. Epstein so cynical? Surely, citizens of Chicago will be outraged at the political corruption, the economic blight of decades of mob-connected grafter Democrat rule, won't they? Well, not exactly. A typical Chicago-style conversation about scandalous corruption:
"Yeah, well." With a shrug, "Whaddya gonna do?"
"You could vote Republican, if anybody runs."
Another shrug. "Yeah, I could." And then there's the afterthought, "I was raised democrat, ya' know. My dad was a democrat - we just always voted democrat."
Yeah. If Dad liked his job with the city, he probably did. And Dad probably didn't get outraged about it either. That's the way it is, that's all. Whaddya gonna do? (For residents of other places in this great nation of ours, let me explain. Chicago-style common knowledge: if you work for this city, you put a democrat's sign on your lawn, and you vote democrat - or you maybe discover that unemployment is not an urban myth.)

For many Chicagoans, Republican (unbelievably, we're not extinct) or otherwise, it can be hard to imagine Chicago sans-corruption. Yes, we gripe about it, but with the inevitable "yeah, well, whaddya gonna do?"
ABC 7 Chicago (Andy Shaw): Daley says city's image in danger, vows to crack down on fraud.
My reaction: Pffff, yeah. The city's squeaky clean image. Right. I'm with John Kass:
Believe Daley's pledge? How about Peter Pan?
Consider this, also from Joseph Epstien's fine article:
CHICAGO--Power, like yogurt and celebrity, is generally thought to have an expiration date. Not always, not everywhere--and not, apparently, here in Chicago, where one family, the Daleys, has controlled the political action from City Hall for going on four decades.
Yup. Four decades. And wouldn't it be nice if we were looking at only forty years of corrupt "machine" politics? Google the words "Chicago political corruption history", and you'll get book titles and articles ad infinitum on political corruption in Chicago, spanning from the 1850's to the present day. Why do Chicagoans appear to be so apathetic about corruption? To some of us - maybe a lot of us - "Chicago" and "corruption" are synonyms. "Graft" is just a shorter way to say "city government". If you get rid of the corruption, who picks up my garbage?

Can a Republican candidate overcome all the usual dirty hurdles, and manage to instill a different vision of Chicago for these folks? I don't know. In the last mayoral election, nobody tried. Is that an outrage? Well, yeah. But - whaddya gonna do?

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