The 2019 Chicago mayoral election was held on Feb. 26th but since no candidate received a majority of votes, a runoff election was held on April 2nd between the two candidates with the most votes - Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.
Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, won the runoff election by a 50 point margin and will become the city’s first black woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot ran on a platform that she would clean up Chicago’s well known, historic level of corruption. And she is not wrong. I mean, did you know that four of Illinois’s last ten Governors were or are currently in prison? For corruption. Seriously.
Otto Kerner, Governor from 1961-1968 - sentenced to three years in prison for bribery.
Dan Walker, Governor from 1973-1977 - spent a few years in prison for bank fraud.
George Ryan, Governor from 1999-2003 - spent several years in prison for racketeering.
Rod Blagojevich - Governor from 2002-2009, impeached and currently serving a 14 year prison sentence for corruption.
And even though Rahm Emanuel has never been actually accused of a crime his tenure as Chicago’s mayor has certainly not been scandal free. As Rick Perlstein points out in his excellent, “The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel” for the New Yorker,
“….Emanuel had became the mayor of Chicago, elected with fifty-five per cent of the vote in the spring of 2011. Since then, there have been so many scandals in Emanuel’s administration that have failed to gain traction that it’s hard to single them out.”
Well, Rahm decided not to run again and opened the way for Lightfoot. Lightfoot has never held public office but as a former federal prosecutor she certainly knows how to go after crime. The city has actually only had one black mayor, Harold Washington Jr., who was elected in the early 80’s but only held office for a few months before dying of a heart attack at the age of 65.
Lightfoot certainly has her work cut out for her as Chicago universally wins yearly “most corrupt city in the US” awards from all the right and wrong places. Even their very own University of Illinois releases a yearly report on corrupt cities and Chicago is always number one with either L.A. or NYC (Manhattan) switching places back and forth for the second and third spot.
Lori Lightfoot will assume the office of Chicago mayor on May 20th, 2019.
If Jussie Smollett isn’t at least whistling this old blues tune highlighted in the classic movie “The Blues Brothers” he’s even dumber than he looked when he got caught faking a so-called hate crime. And make no mistake. He got caught with his panties down around his ankles by the Chicago Police Department.
While we still have never seen this clown on a TV show, we have to admire his lawyers’ understanding of how identity politics works in Chicago.
They managed to get a hopelessly conflicted, elected State’s Attorney to drop all charges against Smollett after he was indicted by a Grand Jury on 16 felony counts. Her conflict, apparently, was between her patron Saint Michelle Obama and reality. Imagine if a Federal Grand Jury had indicted the President and the Attorney General decided not to prosecute.
It was completely predictable. As it happened, I was in Chicago the week Ms. Hopelessly Conflicted Prosecutor was warming up for something like this and now, she’s busy defending her office by suggesting—among other things—that she saved the taxpayers’ money.
The actual assistant State’s Attorney who handled the case said it wasn’t an exoneration and Smollett said he didn’t do it. The Mayor said he did do it, a Grand Jury said he did and the Police Superintendent said he did.
If Joliet Jake (John Belushi) were still alive, he would have probably been proud of Smollett. Or, maybe not, because at least Jake did his time.
The only problem with Smollett’s legal tactic was the unanticipated consequences of Federal involvement. It takes a lot to put President Trump, Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department on essentially the same page, but Jussie Smollett did it. Trump has announced that the Federal Government is looking into the case. This could be the Rodney King case of the 21st Century where we get to explain to students who went to school after the teachers’ union took over, that double jeopardy does not attach in such situations.
This is the way it works in Chicago and has worked from time immemorial. Remember, this is Illinois where being Governor is prep school for prison and the TV show, The Good Wife was either a documentary or a soap opera depending on where you live or grew up.
It’s also hard for someone who grew up in Illinois not to see some parallels to the Blues Brothers.
Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department have threatened to sue Smollett for the $130,000 they say was expended pulling his panties down after he filed a false police report. And Emanuel—in an attempt to keep his street cred with the left, told the President to butt out.
Smollett’s lawyers say that he doesn’t owe the city an apology but rather the Mayor and the Police owe HIM an apology for dragging his name through the mud.
That’s like Al Capone suing Chicago for letting him under-report his income.
The biggest problem with the entire nation seeing a clown show like this one is that not everyone grew up or lives in Illinois so there is a huge group of people out there who don’t understand the Chicago Way and don’t understand that in Chicago, truth is often stranger than fiction.
As we’ve observed before, maybe Law and Order’s Dick Wolf will explain it to the audience writ large with a one or two episode show next season on Chicago PD, ripped from the headlines. That he didn’t come up with a scenario similar to this up to now is only a reminder that you cannot make this stuff up.
Sweet Home Chicago, indeed.
We all know the old saying, “Some heroes don’t wear capes.” Which is kind of a silly saying though, because lots of super heroes don’t wear capes. But whatever. We all know what it’s supposed to mean.
Anyway. Enter Candice Payne (not to be confused with Candace Payne, the Chewbacca mom). Candice, rightfully called a good Samaritan by every Chicago paper and news site, after hearing about the Polar Freeze that was sweeping the Midwest, rapidly organized with a few of her friends and offered to spring for motel rooms for about 70 homeless people.
The folks were staying in about a dozen or so tents that had been set up in a vacant lot near Willis Tower, several of them were actually heated with portable propane tanks but when one of the tanks exploded (no injuries) their heat source was gone. So, while the folks living there didn’t have to evacuate - there wasn’t going to be any heat during the minus thirty degree weather. And they clearly didn't have anywhere else to go.
So Candice did something about it. Apparently, she called dozens of hotels but couldn’t find one willing to take 70 homeless folks until she hit jackpot with the Amber Inn. The rooms cost about $70 each and she ended up paying about $1400 out of pocket, that she put on a credit card.
Payne posted on her Instagram account and several of her friends helped by offering money, donating food, clothes and diapers. Then they ordered several Ubers to move the folks to the motel where Payne and her volunteers had provided enough food for three meals a day until the cold front ended.
Payne and her all volunteer group hopes to find a more long-term solution for the homeless and plan to continue working together.
So, I don't know about you but - I kind of love Candice Payne.
On Monday morning sources around the country reported on the Sears bankruptcy. But that doesn’t mean the company is out of business. Well, not yet anyway. It’s a good ol’ fashioned restructuring type of bankruptcy. I don’t believe that many feel the restructuring will work but there it is.
There is blame o’plenty. Current CEO Eddie Lampert blames Sears retirees. Analysts around the globe blame the CEO for his bad decisions not committing to online sales. Common sense and reason suggests that Walmart and Amazon gobbled up Sears customers like an old school game of Pac Man. It might even have been because of that time in 2003 when Sears sold its highly lucrative credit card business to Citigroup. No, seriously, that credit card business was more than 50% of the company’s profits. And they sold it off. *shrugs*
Anyway. It was probably a giant mixture of events that led Sears to inevitable bankruptcy after 130 years in business. CNN interactive made a really nice timeline of the company leading up to Monday’s announcement.
This all seems eerily familiar to my childhood. I grew up in MPLS, MN and we had a huge Sears building on Lake Street, kind of midtown Minneapolis. And I spent many an hour walking those retail halls or getting my keys made there or wondering why we could only shop on floor 1-3 but the building clearly had several stories above those - what was happening there? I even have fond memories of scrolling through the Sears catalog and circling all the toys I wanted for Christmas. Our Sears building closed down in 1994 and was eventually declared a national landmark building. Then in 2006 it was reopened as the Midtown Global Market with apartments and condos above. I’ve also spent many an hour eating and drinking at the Midtown Global Market so it all came full circle for me.
For the Sears company however, it all came down to that $134 million dollar payment they had due on Monday. And they couldn’t afford to make it. Hence the bankruptcy and restructuring.
Everything Sears seems to be fading fast. Even the famous Chicago Sears Tower, at once the tallest building in the US, was eventually bought and renamed the Willis Tower. The only silver lining here for Sears - I’m pretty sure everyone in the world still calls it the Sears Tower.
Again, this isn’t the end for Sears (yet) but the company does plan to close more than a hundred underperforming stores.