Thursday, September 3, 2009

Et tu, Daley?

Well one report from the IOC and the Chicago media goes crazy.  I'm happy about it of course—the media is finally starting to catch up with the public.

The stories and editorials are coming fast and furious. But the Mayor has to be starting to panic: His constituents don't want the Olympics any more:
Nearly as many city residents oppose Mayor Richard Daley's Olympic plans, 45 percent, as support them, 47 percent. And residents increasingly and overwhelmingly oppose using tax dollars to cover any financial shortfalls for the Games, with 84 percent disapproving of the use of public money.
Daley has, for the last two or three years, put all his eggs and political capital and connections and ego and time and effort and you know... everything... into getting the Olympics.  The thought was two fold:
1) The Games would be Daley's final 'stamp' on Chicago.  His legacy.  They would be the Daley Olympics, not Chicago's, Daley's.  

2) Money.  Daley also needed the Olympics because of the money it would bring in.  Not the ticket sales and the bullshit multiplier effect that they try to sell us.  But rather federal money.  The city for a bunch of reasons, is out of money (or sitting on billions depending on who you believe) and Daley is/was hoping that the Feds would come in and build him some new public transportation lines and help with crime which would allow him to throw more money at the schools.  But ever since the Federal government started bailing out the banks, it's hard to believe that they're going to send much (any?) money Chicago's way.  

The people of Chicago will put up with a lot as long as you: pick up the garbage, keep the city open spaces clean, and plow the snow.  But even Chicagoans will start to feel a bit rebellious after three years of over all decline throughout the city.  

The decline isn't exactly noticeable to the untrained or out of town eye.  The Loop still looks the Loop and the Lakefront is amazing on a sunny day.  But if you were to walk the streets every day, the difference starts to become obvious.  Crime is up, cops don't have a contract, schools are out of money, if you park your car on the street someone seems to find a way to give you a ticket, it seems like we're being hustled by our own government at every street corner.  And thus, the air, the rhythm of the city, doesn't feel right.  Every Chicago resident feels ignored—we know when the Mayor takes off for China or Moscow and we feel a little, well, neglected.

It hasn't helped that the Olympics have been rammed down our throat.  We haven't had a say in any of this.  That's partly our fault.  But at the same time, Daley and his buddies at Aon (who are working on the details of this bid) haven't allowed us to speak, let alone listened.  Daley figured that we want the Olympics because HE WANTS the Olympics.  But this time he misjudged us. We aren't upset because of the money or the financing.  This is about being ignored.  

Every Chicago resident knew what was going to happen the moment this process started years ago.  We knew there would be corruption. We knew that the Olympic people would be paid a ton of money. We aren't stupid.  But as Daley realizes that we, his constituents, know that he can't deliver everything his promised and that we feel ignored... well I'm not sure what he's going to do.  With a month to go, he has to sell the Games to us, something he never thought he'd have to do.  And now, as the last leg of this journey begins, Daley is still pandering to the world.

He can shut down Michigan Avenue and let Oprah become the #2 cheerleader for all the world to see.  But with every stunt that Daley does to impress the World, he loses another one of His Own.  The people of Bridgeport have been saying this for years—ever since he left the 'hood.  They'll tell anyone and everyone their own Ritchie story, and none of them are ever good.  And we non-Bridgeporters would smile and think, "oh come on, he's not that bad."

But the truth is, they were right.  And now, as we all walk down Ashland or Irving Park or Longwood or Kosner making that quick, slight eye contact with the passerby, we both share a moment where we both thing:

Et tu, Ritchie?

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