Guess what, Westsiders? History was made on March 29th. It was more of an infamous moment, but still noteworthy. Why? ‘Cause for the first time ever, Mayor Rahm Emanuel managed to find his way to the West Side to participate in the NAACP mayoral forum at Purcell Hall, 4300 W. Washington Blvd. Now as a reminder, four years ago in 2011, when the NAACP held a forum at Friendship Baptist, the mayor couldn’t fit the West Side on his calendar. He had something more important to do than court us for our vote. Back then, his pseudo endorsement from Obama was enough to get the door swung open and for black folks to embrace him. Flash forward to January 24, 2015. The NAACP again held a candidates forum for mayor at Friendship Baptist and our self-anointed king….oops I meant mayor, didn’t show up for a second time with a re-election bid on the table. He already knew that Obama would make a commercial for him, so why waste his time on a bunch of “Mississippi Negroes” when he had real constituents to entice for their votes. Thankfully, the election and the candidacy of Willie Wilson put a halt to the mayor’s plans. He wasn’t re-elected, but forced into a runoff that is the “make or break it” race of his political future.
So one would think that his appearance at the March 29th forum would have had him showing up “hat in hand,” as they say. But not Mayor Superzero. He showed up and didn’t even have the decency to put on a tie. He looked like we had interrupted his normal Sunday afternoon nap in front of the television with a beer can in hand. Plus, he was late, which meant that he didn’t get the full hour of questions asked of him.
My question to him was asked. I had listened intently to the debate held at Chicago State University and when he was asked specifically about his economic plans for the south and west sides, his response over the radio had been in a nutshell — “Playgrounds and basketball.” That comment had been so upsetting to me that I called into WVON 1690 AM and went off about it to the host. So when asked to clarity his comment at the event this past Sunday, he managed to recall a different context in which the question was asked. In other words, he lied. So it was par for the course when, given different questions about his plans for Austin, East and West Garfield and such, the questioner also included some South Side names, which gave the mayor the opportunity to highlight the upcoming Whole Foods in Englewood, as opposed to specifically responding about West Side neighborhoods. I got a little vocal along with others as I didn’t come to hear him speak about the other side of town. I needed to know about his plans for the
neighborhoods on this side of town. He doesn’t have any and that says quite a lot.
Commissioner ‘Chuy’ Garcia showed up on time and his hour was very enlightening. His calm demeanor, even after getting a rousing welcome, was refreshing. And yes, he had on a suit and tie. He promised to make sure that contractors have work crews that reflect the neighborhoods of all Chicago. He promised “fair and equitable” as the basis for all he would do as mayor. He knew what “restorative justice” was and continues with his theme that, until Mayor Rahm Emanuel opens up the books, we won’t know what shape the city is truly in. He will end the red light and speed light cameras on his first day in office and if he takes my idea for commission-based, camera-equipped traffic cars, he could replace that money in a heartbeat. There are just too many folks driving with their cellphones in their hands. I am sick of seeing drivers open their windows and toss garbage onto the city streets. And as the weather warms up, we will soon have the radios blasting. All of that makes for hard living in a city.
Early voting ends on Saturday, April 4th and the election is Tuesday, April 7th. With only the mayor’s seat and nineteen aldermanic seats on the line, it should take you less than one minute to do it.
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