There are certain missteps a mayor can make that the general public will overlook. Then there are the “F-Ups” that will haunt a mayor forever. One-Term Lori (OTL) has managed within her first year to accomplish both, with an emphasis on the latter over the former.
Chicago is a rough-and-tough city. We like feisty candidates. We elected Jane Byrne over Michael Bilandic because of the 1979 snow-removal debacle as well as her “stand up for the little guy” appeal. Moving into Cabrini-Green was a stunt, but it was still a feisty and bold move even though she didn’t have the right kind of backup to make it work permanently. She lost black folks’ support permanently when she had those two Southwest Side women put on the school board.
For a moment, OTL had a similar persona developing. Her boldness in closing down the lakefront in spite of her whinier constituents’ lament had her becoming a popular meme. Many were proud that OTL wasn’t playing, and had even given her a nickname: “Auntie Lori.” There she was at any and all events, reminding people to stay home. Unfortunately, memes are not reality. She used toughness when she should have used smartness, as in the exchange with those young black people who were out at the school playground on the West Side. She failed to use real toughness and preparedness as the city spiraled out of control into looting following the death of George Floyd.
One of the first things any mayor has to understand are the two sides of town that the black community occupies. The south side has always been considered the hoity-toity side that will serve you hors d’oeuvres, while the West Side is the more down-to-earth side that will serve you a complete meal. Add her “doesn’t-have-a-clue” about this city, a new police chief who is an out-of-towner, with no “on the ground” concept about the policing needs and strategies to deal with a very predictable situation, and this city was ripe for all that happened!
The buck stopped directly at the mayor’s desk. Her failure to call in the National Guard to send a message that she was serious, sent the message that she was playing. And everybody tested the waters. Looters were not restricted to any one nationality or race. It was a free-for-all with those wanting something for nothing, taking it. Others just wanted to see things burned and destroyed. And to top it off, we still have coronavirus lurking.
In retrospect, would Toni Preckwinkle have been the better mayor? I say no, and this is the reason why. Chicago needs a strong city council/weak mayor concept. That’s how it was designed. For the past 65 or so years, each mayor has controlled the city council with an iron fist. We finally now have aldercreatures who are taking a stand and pushing back against the mayor’s powers. They are becoming the hyenas, jackasses, slithering snakes and rats they have always been. And that’s a good thing. For they won’t blindly go along with an agenda just because the mayor wants it. The taping of the Zoom meeting is proof!
Because I see the mayor as a one-termer, it is time for those who have political aspirations to be the next mayor to begin to make waves to challenge her. And the challenge will not be difficult. I want my next mayor to have been born in this city. I want my next mayor to have gone to school in this city. I want my next mayor to have always lived in this city.
That is the foundation for the only someone who can truly know how to run this city!