By Arlene Jones
'God don't like ugly" is all I could think as I sat in a meeting held on Saturday, Jan. 9, sponsored by state representatives La Shawn Ford (8th) and Mary Flowers (31st). The purpose of the meeting was to explain the bill the two Illinois General Assembly members had introduced to establish a process that would allow a mayoral recall vote. I arrived at the meeting several minutes before it was scheduled to begin and the room wasn't even half full — disappointing but not unusual.
As the meeting progressed, the door to the building continued to open. Slowly but steadily, the room was filling with all sorts of people, representing the entire Chicago landscape. They were young and old; black, white and Latino; able-body and disabled; community activists and those who rarely get involved in politics.
As I listened to the questions regarding the bill being posed by people in the audience, the atmosphere seemed different from meetings I had attended in the past. This was not a "vent session" where people were just blowing off steam or a meeting held to "placate the natives."
What was evident beyond a reasonable doubt was that all of us were gathered with a singular, common purpose: wanting to ensure that HB 4356 is called to the house floor, passes, and becomes law.
There was so much determination in the room that I had to wonder what happened to the guardian angel who had once protected the "golden boy of the Democratic Party," Rahm Emanuel, allowing him to soar to the heights he has attained? Rahm's profanity-laden personality was legendary. He sent dead fish to enemies and, as chief of staff to the first black president, is alleged to have said, "F*** the Black Caucus" when told the president should meet with them.
His political acumen was always on point. He only left the White House to come back to Chicago to run for mayor. He even overcame the "residency" rule by kicking his former tenants out of the house he had rented them. His resume contained all the bullet points that put him on a trajectory to run and possibly become president. All he had to do was show the world he could manage this city as an elected official, not an appointed one. He had even managed to win re-election even though it included a runoff with a man who a year earlier was unknown to many.
Now as I sat listening to how we as citizens should call our state representatives and ask them to support HB 4356, I had to ask myself what Rahm could possibly have done to piss God off so that his once rising star is falling as he plummets back to earth, his prospects burning up as he does so.
Rahm's Dec. 9 teary-eyed speech before the city council was a lie. His "I own it" speech in retrospect is more about controlling the problem as opposed to really wanting to solve/fix it. Emails that the city was forced to release show that Rahm's office had been very much involved in the Laquan McDonald shooting from the beginning. The cover-up has been deeper and much more sinister than anyone could imagine. Many of the changes that are now being instituted could have been done the day after Rahm was re-elected. Yet nothing changed until he was forced to change.
In his apology speech, Rahm spoke about defining moments. It is time for voters to have one as well. Call your state representative and have them sign onto HB 4356 so Chicagoans can recall a mayor who doesn't have the best interest of the community in mind.
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