Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Rahm Emanuel never lets a good crisis go to waste.  Especially when it comes to politics.  Especially when it comes to raising money for his campaign.

Chicago for Rahm, his campaign, sent out an email on the day two firefighters were killed.  It was a skillfully written sympathy card regarding the deaths.

At the bottom was a rather large Donate button.  Never letting a good crisis go to waste, Rahm wants to make bucks for his campaign on the backs of men who died in true public service.  He is no public servant.  Rahm is merely a lip servant.  One would think if you are sending out condolences you would leave off the Donate to My Political Campaign nonsense.  It sort of takes the meaning out of heartfelt.  It demonstrates you do not have a heart.  Or a soul.

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All gave some. Some gave all.

Yesterday two Chicago Firefighters lost their life doing what they loved to do.  Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum were killed when a roof collapsed and buried them in rubble.

They lived up to the sentiment of “All gave some. Some gave all.”

Firefighters, police officers, and soldiers, never know what will happen when they go to work.  They leave their families and loved ones knowing full well tragedy can strike.  It is something very few think about.  They just do it.

It is the mark of a true professional.  They profess something.  Something deep, heartfelt, and murky.  This thing we call service.  It is something that can not be defined, but is felt.  Deep down in their souls.

Maybe during this holiday season we should take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices being made on our behalf around the clock every single day.  This is the season of giving.  Firefighters Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer  gave all.

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According to the Chicago Sun Times the Cook County Inspector General and the county ethics board chief issued a two page “advisory”reminding people of rules against hiring relatives.  Funny, it came out two weeks after Joe “The Lobster” Berrios hired his relatives to work for him.

Berrios response, through a spokesperson, is his relatives are competent and they are staying.  His transition has gone smoothly so there is no worry about Berrios hiring relatives.  Ethics ordinances are for little people.  They are not for guys like Berrios, who is also the Cook County Democratic Chairman.

This is the problem with the Democratic Machine.  The rules do not apply to them.  They can flaunt them at will.  Inspector Generals and ethics chiefs can issue all the reports they want.  If they take any action they will be in the unemployment line.  Replaced by a Democratic elected official’s relative.  Probably named Berrios.


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December 22, 1910

Union Stockyards Fire Memorial

One hundred years ago today, the Union Stockyards was ravaged by a fire.  The fire started in a building owned by the Nelson Morris Company.  21 firefighters were killed when a blazing wall collapsed on them.  It was the greatest loss of big-city firemen until September 11,2001.  All the firemen were from the neighborhood, making the tragedy worse, especially three days before Christmas.

The fire made national news because of the Union Stockyards status as a Chicago landmark.  Though fires at the Stockyards were not uncommon, they were treacherous due to the grease soaked wood and chemicals used in meat processing at the time.

“Every fireman knows what a stockyard fire means,” the Tribune reported at the time. “The men knew of the treachery of the ancient shells of grease soaked wood and shaky brick walls. … Chicago firemen cherish no illusions when they go in to strangle a big fire at the yards with their hands.”

It took 17 hours to pull the remains of the firefighters out.  They were buried in the rubble with the bodies of hog meat stored in the building.

Today, on the one hundredth year of the anniversary, descendents of the fallen will place a wreath at the memorial statue to commemorate the men who died that fateful day.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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Father and son

Father and son

In 1955 I was two years old and a guy named Daley was elected mayor of Chicago.  He was Da Mare until his death on December 20, 1976.  Just over 21 years.  In 1989 I was 36 years old.  A guy named Daley was elected mayor.  He will retire this year after over 21 years, bypassing his father by five months.

For over 42 years a guy named Daley has been mayor of Chicago.  We will be seeing the inevitable stories about comparisons between father and son, and other forms of nostalgic musings from the media.

The father took over the reigns of power when urban America had nowhere to go but up.  The son took over when urban America was past decline.  The father was a firm believer in power politics.  The son believed in the power of coalition politics.

Both men had their merits and their foibles.  They were easy to poke fun at or get mad at.  At the end of the day they had one thing in common.  They were in charge.  They led, they ran, they managed.  For better or worse.

Father and son knew the value of practical politics.  Neither were raging liberals or conservatives.  They were pragmatists.  It was never a matter of what you thought, it was a matter of what you did and who you knew.  And you better get something done.

They were doers.  They both did whatever it took to accomplish things.  Maybe they did some harm along the way.  But, that is the human condition.  No one is perfect.  Not one of us can say we are angels or demons.   In the end they both loved Chicago and did what they thought was best.  Sometimes what they thought best was not the best decision.

They governed in different times and different political worlds.  But one thing remains clear.  Father and son went through turbulent times.  Both held the city together and refused to let it fail.  When New York was crumbling and nearly bankrupt, Chicago thrived.  While Detroit turned into the equivalent of a third world country, Chicago survived.  We are still standing, even though things are being held together with baling wire and bubble gum.

Their real problem was speed.  Both were fast to build, improve, beautify, and create an urban oasis.  Move.  Get it done.  Now.  Both were slow to solve problems.  Problems they were aware of.  Problems were only solved when scandals forced them to do something.  Things went along merrily until the next scandal.

Father and son were brash, bold, and tried to execute big ideas.  The father had buildings erected and built the most powerful Democratic machine in history; a power felt on the national level.  The son oversaw a modern building boom, brought new kinds of businesses to Chicago and built a smaller, more efficient machine focused on political, racial, ethnic, social, and cultural coalitions.  Both men worked well with presidents and powerhouses of both parties.  That is how things get done.

We will never know which man was greater.  Which did the most good or the most harm.  That will be left to historians.  Father and son shared equal amounts of praise, condemnation, and ridicule.  Both were temperamental to the point of apoplectic rage.  When they laughed- cackled- others laughed too.  With them and at them.

For a total of forty six years a guy named Daley has been the mayor of Chicago.  That in and of itself is a major accomplishment.  For better or worse.




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Langdon Neal’s Circus is on the air!

The hearings to challenge Rahm Emanuel’s residency turned into a circus act.  Many of the objectors were clowns.  Clowns who demanded to be taken seriously.

Burt Odelson, the attorney representing two serious challengers and Joe Morris the hearing officer plodded through with professional grace.  Even when some of the challenger’s behavior was beyond outlandish.

This circus is a clear demonstration there is a severe problem with the policies and procedures the Board of Elections has in place.  It is the fault of the Board that a serious matter degenerated into such a low farce.

The Board of Elections has to be revamped from the ground up.  It is time for new independent commissioners, term limits, and a total overhaul of the ordinances, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations governing the board.

There were over three hundred challenges to aldermanic candidates.  Most are purely frivolous.  Then there are the problems with ballot integrity, the election judge system, and the total lack of enforcement when violations occur.  There is no investigation of complaints, especially those of poll watchers.  Once the election is over it is history.  On to the next one.

If we ever are to have honest elections in this city we should demand the Board of elections be revamped.   Or better yet, it should be put under federal oversight until they get it right or go to prison.

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Where is Rahm’s closet?

While monitoring the circus that Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral challenge has turned into, I recalled a conversation I had with the teenager a while back.  Yesterday’s comedy surrounded Rahm’s storage closet.  The one located in the basement of the house he rented out and does not live in.

The teenager and I were discussing Rahm’s entry into the race.  I had mentioned that Rahm is a very good political operative.  He knows where the skeletons are buried in his opponent’s and ally’s closets.  The teenager asked if Rahm had any skeletons in his closet.  I thought about that for a minute.  I told her everyone has skeletons in their closets.  If you live or work in public, there are skeletons.  She asked why no one could find any of Rahm’s.  I said they probably could, but there was only one little problem.  No one knows where Rahm’s closet is.

While most of the media are turning columns, barrels of ink, and giga bytes of pixels into Rahm Emanuel Facebook pages, singing his praises, sympathizing with his travails, and promoting his campaign, no one is looking into him.  No one is digging.  No one is vetting.  No one is asking the hard questions.  They are not even asking the soft ones.

It is not laziness or incompetence.  It is the playbook.  The media picked Rahm to be the mayor and the mayor he will be.  Damn the people.  Rahm does not have to spend much money on advertising.  The media is doing the work for free.   From reporters, to columnists, right up to the editorial boards.  There will be no investigation or criticism of the Emanuel, the new Messiah, the Savior.

Rahm is getting a free pass by the media.  No one is searching for the truth, the lies, or anything else.  Rahm showed up.  Rahm is running.  Rahm will be elected.  Case closed.

While other candidates are being ignored or skeletons in their closets are being unearthed, Rahm is getting a free pass.  No one is searching for Rahm’s closet.  It’s a pity the real journalists- the great ones- are just fictional characters in novels.

The media in this town are all singing the same song.

Oh come, Oh come Emanuel.

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