Skip to main content

By the time I got to Chase Park, the first tricklings of a crowd had begun to congregate at the corner of Ashland and Leland Avenues. A small group of men clad almost exclusively in black rucked around in their backpacks, pulling out ghoulish Guy Fawkes masks and placing them atop their heads like actors preparing for a show at a Kabuki theater. On the street corner, a middle-aged Hispanic man wearing an old Army desert camouflage uniform and a floppy beige bucket hat waved around a giant wooden flagpole holding up the stars and stripes and—inexplicably—a portrait of George Washington while a few betatted, Anarcho-punkish women turned off of Clark Street and began walking towards the rally's meeting point, each one holding a sign saying “ONE TERM MAYOR” by their sides. A few parents watching their children play on the park's jungle gym disinterestedly watched their arrival, making sure to give the side-eye to one woman with a platinum blonde pixie cut who had the temerity to smoke her American Spirits within 500 ft of their offspring.

My thoughts exactly

It was the 4th of July in 2013 and Occupy's Chicago branch had organized what they dubbed, “A Block Party to Fight Austerity at Rahm's House,” which was not so much a block party as it is a march and mini-rally. The Rahm in question was former White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a man who once sent a dead fish in a box to pollster who was late sending back polling results and had a sign on his desk at The White House that read, “Undersecretary for Go Fuck Yourself.” Emanuel is the epitome of the establishment New Democrat: a opportunistic centrist with a background in fundraising and high finance who tries to mask his utter disregard for the poor and disenfranchised by being a vocal supporter of special interests like gun control and gay rights.

Rahm's CV is really rather impressive. He served as chief fundraiser for the campaigns of President Bill Clinton and Richard M. Daley, the man whom he would later succeed as Mayor of Chicago, and would take a break from politics in the late 90s to make over $16 million with the investment bank Wasserstein Perella. Emanuel has also been intimately linked with Goldman Sachs for most of his political career, a relationship that began in 1992 when he was on a $3,000 a month retainer from the investment banking firm at the same time he was convincing Goldman Sachs employees to contribute over $100,000 to Clinton's campaign coffers. Over the ensuing two decades, Rahm's ties to the financial elite would only strengthen, a development evidenced by the fact that he received more money from hedge funds, private equity firms and the larger securities/investment industry during the 2008 election cycle than any other member of the House of Representatives. A man of the people, he is not.

More than anything else, Mayor Emanuel's abhorrent neglect of the Chicago Public School system during his brief time in office has galvanized the protesters who have affiliated themselves with the Occupy movement. At the march that day, a couple dozen were wearing their red Chicago Teachers Union t-shirts and many more expressed their dissatisfaction with the way the mayor's office had been starving CPS of resources with words and placards. The blood feud began in earnest in September of 2012, when the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike for the first time in a quarter-century to protest the city's proposed plan to, among other things, increase the influence of standardized testing in teacher evaluations, while amending the hiring practices regarding teachers who were laid off due to non- performance-based reasons like school closure. Much of the mainstream media focused on the fact that the union was fighting for pay increases for their members when the average salary of a CPS teacher was around $74,000, citing these supposedly exorbitant salaries as proof positive of the unmitigated bloat endemic to our nation's underperforming public school system, but teacher pay grades weren't the principle reason why they were striking. At the heart of the matter was job security, something that would prove to be largely illusory for thousands of CPS teachers and staffers in the coming months.

Last May, Emanuel and his administration closed 50 of the city's public schools, the largest such closure in American history. The closures resulted in the firing of more than 3,000 CPS employees and the displacement of 12,700 students who now have to travel long distances through often dangerous neighborhoods just to reach their new schools. Of the students who attended the schools that were earmarked for destruction by the city in 2013, 88% were black, 10% were Hispanic and 94% came from low-income households. Unsurprisingly, the South and West Sides bore the brunt of the burden under Emanuel's cuts, as 46 of the 50 shuttered schools were located in those parts of the city. All in all, Mayor Emanuel cut $162 million from the city's school budget over the 2013-14 school year, citing an estimated $1 billion CPS budget deficit as the cause for his cuts. Meanwhile, while Emanuel claimed to be cash-strapped, the city was sitting on roughly $200 million in non-earmarked Tax Increment Financing funds, which are just gathering dust. And that isn't even the worst part.

Anti-austerity placard + Guy Fawkes mask + Chicago Police Cruiser = Occupy Block Party at Rahm's House

At around the same time he was gleefully taking an axe to tens of elementary schools serving poor minorities, Emanuel announced that the city was committing over $100 million to help finance the construction of a new basketball stadium for DePaul University, a decision so profoundly asinine and immoral that it would have made Boss Tweed wet himself with glee. In fact, it is so reprehensible that I couldn't fit all of it's myriad issues in a standard paragraph format and have come up with a slightly anal retentive, numbered list to demonstrate it's ridiculousness:
1. Separation of Church and That Other Thing: For those of you who aren't familiar with Midwest's collegiate landscape, DePaul University is a private school. In fact, it is a private, Catholic school that charges its 16,000+ undergraduate students over $30,000 a year in tuition and shouldn't have a any problem raising funds for pet projects without help from a city government hemorrhaging cash. Having a major city provide more than $100 million in funding to a private, Catholic university while cutting over $160 million from it's own public school system is the budgetary equivalent of a man with prostate cancer cutting back on his chemotherapy treatments so that he could afford to pay for penile enlargement surgery.

2. DePaul Basketball is Bloody Awful: No, really. They suck. The men's basketball program at DePaul posted a record of 59 wins and 132 losses from 2008 to 2014, and has only managed to make the NCAA Tournament twice in the past 20 seasons. In fact, DePaul's basketball program is so bad, they managed to finish dead last in their conference each of the past 6 years.

3. Nobody Cares: Due in large part to them having sucked so hard, for so long, Chicagoans generally don't give a damn about Blue Demon basketball and they sure as shit don't show up for games. According to the ticket records from Allstate Arena, where they've been playing for over 3 decades, DePaul averaged 2,900 fans per home game during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. To give you an idea of how pathetic this is, The University of Kentucky piled over 23,000 fans into Rupp Arena in 2005 for their school's version of Midnight Madness, a kick-off event held by many universities that is essentially a glorified first practice to celebrate the official beginning of the season. Kentucky pulled in more than half of DePaul's annual basketball attendance for a team practice session.

4. It's Nowhere Near Campus: Keeping with the plan's general theme of impracticality, Emanuel is planning on building the stadium near McCormick Place in the city's Near South Side, over 6 miles away from the university itself. For a student living on campus, that's 20 minutes away by car and over an hour away by public transit. I'm don't have a Ph.D. in urban planning, but I'm pretty sure forcing students to make a 2 hour round trip journey to see a basketball game isn't going to help out those already dismal attendance figures.

5. The Proposal Was Approved on the DL: In order to make sure his pet project got the green light, Mayor Emanuel snuck the authorization for the use of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in building the stadium into a random committee report and neglected to tell any of the city aldermen that it was in there. So, when the chairman of the city council's housing committee asked for the report's approval, no one was aware that they were actually approving the use of $55 million in Tax Increment Financing funds to buy land for a new basketball arena. Emanuel immediately asked if there were any objections and, hearing none since there had been no time look at the report and debate it, promptly declared it approved. In addition to authorizing the purchase of land for the new stadium, city council members also unwittingly enabled the city to use the powers of eminent domain to purchase land from property owners in the city's South Loop, regardless of if they want to sell or not.

6. It's a Trap! Truth be told, DePaul Basketball has next-to-nothing to do with Mayor Emanuel's infatuation with this stadium project. As The Nation's Dave Zirin has pointed out, there is a very good chance that the stadium is simply a Trojan Horse for the new casino that Emaunel has his heart set on building beside the massive McCormick Place convention center. And, just in case you think I have some irrational vendetta against casinos and am jumping to erroneous conclusions here, Emanuel actually listed the casino as his number two priority for the state legislature, ahead of marriage equality and behind pension reform.

Ultimately, the march drew somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 people, a number that wouldn't have been nearly so impressive if it weren't for the cadre of about 40 of Chicago's Finest that insisted on monitoring the protesters as if they were planning on storming the mayor's house at 4228 North Hermitage with pitchforks and torches made out of the severed, flaming limbs of ill-favored city council members. If this were any other major Midwestern city, one could be forgiven for being taken aback by the police's tremendous overreaction. But this was Chicago, the place where dissent goes to die a thousand gruesome deaths. Chicago is the city where Mayor Daley's jackbooted thugs maced free speech into oblivion during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, gleefully beating the piss out of unarmed protesters with truncheons and billy clubs in full view of the entire world. It's where Dan Rather and Mike Wallace, two card-carrying members of journalism's all-century team, got sucker punched on the convention floor by spineless security guards while America looked on in bewilderment and horror, causing Walter Cronkite to remark in his muffled rage that, “I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, if I may be permitted to say so," words that might not just apply to the events of that night, but to the totality of Chicago politics and to pretty much everything Rahm Emanuel's done during his time in the mayor's office.

What else would you expect from the Mayor of Go Fuck Yourself?

Originally posted to Virally Suppressed on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Chicago Kossacks, Hellraisers Journal, and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Pat K California, Thumb, Alumbrados, cslewis, Sylv, melo, copymark, glitterscale, Yoshimi, Shockwave, genethefiend, eeff, Walt starr, hubcap, opinionated, TracieLynn, Merlin1963, Nate Roberts, revsue, kharma, psnyder, figbash, ranger995, OneCharmingBastard, Wife of Bath, Armand451, Simian, UncleCharlie, liberalcheesehead, democracy inaction, irate, Erik the Red, corvo, grimjc, Simplify, basquebob, ChemBob, bleeding blue, lotlizard, Steve in Urbana, not a lamb, brentut5, snoopydawg, Indiana Bob, scurvy turbo, xaxnar, CJnyc, Jim P, esquimaux, Kingsmeg, cardboardurinal, AoT, UntimelyRippd, Utahrd, anastasia p, blueoasis, NBBooks, twigg, 4Freedom, PapaChach, JVolvo, Preston S, ER Doc, middleagedhousewife, Turbonerd, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Johnathan Ivan, Aaa T Tudeattack, ammasdarling, hawaii2, karmsy, semioticjim, veinbulge2000, dclawyer06, DWG, aliasalias, bnasley, HCKAD, martyinsfo, jnhobbs, GeorgeXVIII, leonard145b, bewild, MKinTN, JeffW, 6412093, OleHippieChick, Involuntary Exile, dadadata, KJG52, Calamity Jean, rssrai, shigeru, BYw, Karl Rover, palantir, shortgirl, shizzyhiznat, Louisiana 1976, bsmechanic, LeftOfYou, dicentra, Remediator, papahaha, sfarkash, Lacy LaPlante, ArthurPoet, chambord, commonmass, parse this, barkworsethanbite, mookins, Things Come Undone, nosleep4u, ozsea1, Catherine R, jardin32, swale44, Situational Lefty, abbotkinney, tardis10, LSmith, wintergreen8694, PhilJD, poliwrangler, Joe Jackson, bloomin, imlpdx, dradams, DRo, Chitown Kev, No one gets out alive, deltadoc, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, anodnhajo, Flying Goat, greenbastard, rexxnyc, turn blue, David54, 420 forever, Trotskyrepublican, LittleSilver, Canines and Crocodiles, Galtisalie, parakeet, New Minas, FrY10cK, George3, peptabysmal, Robynhood too, madcitysailor, BobTheHappyDinosaur, sebsgf, Lily O Lady, countwebb, remembrance, JayRaye, eyo, P Carey, goodpractice, Alhambra, bob152, boriskamite, richardvjohnson, hamjudo, eagleray, jbsoul, Penny GC, Yang Guang, gnothis, sillycarrot, Choco8, kfunk937, ChuckChuckerson, dougiemac in WA

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site