Saturday, September 02, 2006

OBSERVATION: Can Undercurrents Sweep Away Chicago's Mayor?

Chicago Mayor Daley may flash that sly and impish Irish grin, but it seems to be there to draw attention from the sweat on his brow. As a former prosecutor, he well knows the serious of the trouble in which he finds himself. As the quintessential politician, he surely knows that his public support is crumbling. As the chief mechanic of the political machine, he knows better than anyone (despite his incredible public denials) how his convicted political team has long operated. His careful nurturing of the Hispanic community is being undermined by newly aggressive opposition from guys like Congressman Louis Gutierrez. His hold on the black community is being dismantled by the likes of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and The Reverend State Senator James Meeks. The candidacy of Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown may be yet another sign of African-American dissention. The Mayor’s mishandling and feeble excuses over the police torture cases creates more serious disenchantment in the African-American community.

The white community is not exempting Da Boss from the crass and arrogant bequeathing of Cook County government from the stricken senior Stroger to his scion, Stroger-lite. The odds of a Republican taking over the reigns of Cook County government (inconceivable a few months ago) is looking like a real possibility.
Former Governor George Ryan “pay to play” activities were linked to the highway deaths of six children because the responsible truck driver was given his license in return for political work and contributions. Ryan could not shake the public’s belief in his culpability in the tragedy. Though the mainstream press does not hold Democrats to the same moral and ethical standards as Republicans, the parallel culpability is being advanced by some in the case of Tiara Woods. She is the 9-year-old who fell to her death because the politically connected city inspector falsified his inspection report on the porch construction. It will not help that Daley’s administration inexplicably rehired the politically connected inspector. The passage of the “big box” ordinance over Daley’s objections, and the enactment of what he refers to as “silly” legislation, in the case of the ban on pate de foie gras, suggest a rise in city council independency inversely proportionate to the perception of a weaker mayor.

The mayor, who once led the business community like a nose ringed bull, is experiencing public disenchantment over taxes and other business issues.

The once sycophantic press is suddenly shows signs of objective and criticism. The mayor no longer owns the editorial boards, or controls the news editors, as he once did.

And most of all, politicians and the public await the work of the U.S. Attorney. No one believes that the mayor of Chicago is now untouchable. In fact, many insiders speak of "when" the mayor gets indicted, not "if."

Now when the Mayor Daley gives us that Irish grin, I think of the words to that song, "Smile though your heart is breaking ..."

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