Monday, January 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time in Chicago Politics

Illustration: Michael Robertson, Samba for Rats.

Once upon a time on the South Side of Chicago a brave woman dared to challenge the longtime incumbent for her position as Grand High Exalted Mystic Alderman. The Challenger was diligent and hard working in her preparations for the race: she gathered more than 600 petition signatures when only 181 were necessary; she defended each and every signature in grueling, arbitrary Board of Election hearings; she turned in her petitions on time and won the lottery for first position on the ballot; she responded to the questionnaires of the local newspapers; she met with merchants and constituents in every part of her ward; she launched a compelling campaign website.

And then the time came to open her campaign office. A friend and supporter who ran a shop on 71st and Jeffery Boulevard offered to share her storefront with the brave Challenger for no fee, as a campaign contribution. The Challenger's campaign office had its grand opening on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

But the Grand High Exalted Mystic Incumbent was displeased. Her own campaign office was mere blocks away on 71st Street (and incidentally located in "Suite 2B" of the same address as her ward office, perhaps unnecessarily raising eyebrows about her compliance with section 9-25.1 of the Illinois Election Code, which forbids using ward resources for campaign purposes, but I digress). The Incumbent fumed: who was this Challenger to take the top spot on the ballot? Who was this Challenger to dare to open her campaign office so close to the Incumbent Castle?

Within forty-eight hours, the unsuspecting landlord of the Storekeeper received a phone call from the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ward Office: have your tenant evict the Challenger, or the dreaded Building Inspectors will be out to check the property, to verify whether its new use as both a retail space and office space conforms with zoning restrictions, and maybe to pillage and burn it if they were in a truly foul temper.

The Challenger, to spare her friend the Storekeeper any worries or heartache, and knowing there are some Good Ol' Boy tactics that you can't beat, packed up her office and moved, but did not give up.

The End. 


Anonymous said...

Leslie's vindictiveness is making her look like Todd Stroger II.

Richard Gill said...

Well, this is yet another argument against the Chicago system that allows an Alderman having the wrong motives to behave like an old-time Ward Boss.

It's just hard to believe that the city's buildings department would be stupid enough to respond to a politician's request for a blatantly punitive inspection, especially at election time. In recent years, similar activities have put officials in this city and state in Federal jails. Sadly, in this case,it seems the threat was enough.

Here's the good news: Cyberspace can't be shut down for a leaky heating pipe. INSPECT THIS, Grand High Exalted Mystic Alderman.

chicago pop said...

Well said, Mr. Gill.

Not said...

Richard Gill is clearly chicago pop.

Your blog has come to serve as the manifestation of the cronyism and bullying you claim to point out. Your views do not represent the majority of the "non-big establishment" minds of Hyde Park.

Come out from behind that false mustache, Richard. We know you're in there.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Not: This post, "Once Upon a Time in Chicago Politics," was written by me. I just forgot to put "posted by Elizabeth Fama" at the top. But maybe we're all Chicago Pop, come to think of it.

chicago pop said...

No, I am the blogger with three heads. I give crony kick-backs to myself.

chicago pop said...


Anonymous said...

Richard Gill is clearly chicago pop.

5 minutes of reading archived HPP posts, and at least 2 articles published in independent news sources, would have proven this assumption to be incorrect.


Richard Gill said...

Thanks for the morning laugh, Not. Reading your comment, I almost blew Rice Chex all over the keyboard. I've got to stop blogging while eating.