It's election day in Chicago. We're about to pick a new mayor.The end of an era is upon us. Ding dong Daley's gone.
It's been suggested that with a little help, Rahm Emanuel may be able to win the thing outright today. He's gotta get 50.1% to avoid a runoff election in April against the 2nd place finisher, presumably Gery Chico.
Our outgoing mayor, Richard M Daley, is not openly supporting anyone, but it's generally accepted that he is supporting Rahm.
Now up here in the 41st Ward, which is on the far northwest side of the city, it's not exactly Rahm country. Our last alderman, Brian Doherty, was the only Republican on the city council. Plenty of cops, firemen & women, public school teachers, and other city employees live in 41. They are the ones who elected Doherty.
Recently, these people received a letter from Rahm explaining his position on their pensions, and clarifying remarks made by Gery Chico that suggested that Rahm is going to start chopping away at their money. There was immediate outcry from both Rahm's mayoral opponents, as well as the city employees.
Rahm Emanuel is not supposed to mail election material to these people directly, and plenty of these cops are wondering, loudly, how Rahm found out their names and addresses. Must have someone on the inside, down at City Hall, with access to the city's data base or something.
I know, shocking isn't it?
On a whim, I just took a drive over to the local polling place on Birchwood Ave to see what turnout looked like. I figured there'd be the usual poll watchers (off-duty cops usually) and a handful of reporters along with those people who wanted to vote at Dodge School.
Would you believe it? Of all days, the Chicago Dept of Streets and Sanitation chose today to haul out the heavy equipment and dig a huge hole in the middle of Oleander Ave, right in front of the 41st Ward polling place. The excavator is there. The CAUTION tape is there. The barricades are up to keep people from parking on either Oleander or Birchwood. But there was no work being done. None. Not a hardhat or dayglo vest in sight. It was almost as if the Streets and San people had dug the fucking hole, blocked off the places to park, and then just left for the day.
That's going to be a problem for the people who want to go vote.
Some cynical types might say that Daley is trying to give a little help to Rahm by screwing up the 41st Ward polling place, and keeping those cops, fire personnel, and teachers from casting votes. But really, why would Richie do that? He's always had such a good working relationship with city employees.
Other cynical types night say that Daley couldn't get the plows to clear Birchwood and Oleander for a week after the Feb 1 blizzard, and yet somehow he found a way to get all that equipment out on election day, just to fuck up Gery Chico's chances of carrying 41. I don't think so. That would be using city services for political purposes, and a Daley would never do something like that.
If by chance Rahm doesn't win the Mayor's Office outright today, I'm thinking perhaps they could dig up the other two streets that border Dodge School, Olcott Ave and Jarvis St. some time in April. Scheduled maintenance.On the other hand, if Rahm does win today, look for the cops, the fire dept., and the teachers union to give the new mayor a little help once he takes over in May. Very little help.