- Brian Jackson/Sun-Times
- Alderman Scott Waguespack
I was watching reruns of The Sopranos last night, so I missed WTTW’s great debate on city finances when it first aired.
In particular, I was watching the episode where Tony has his daughter’s former boyfriend whacked—shot in the back of the head—as he’s walking down the street.
A cold-blooded act of ruthless decisiveness that Mayor Emanuel could only envy.
Meanwhile, back on WTTW, two of the mayor’s favorite aldermen were debating two of his biggest critics on the latest plan to borrow $1.9 billion to pay for something or other. Apparently, the mayor will let us know how he plans to spend the money after he’s spent it.
Good thing WTTW keeps this stuff online, ’cause it was a blast to watch. So check it out.
You had mayoral allies Joe Moore and Will Burns going toe-to-toe with mayoral critics Scott Waguespack and Robert Fioretti.
In the middle, trying to moderate the discussion, was Paris Schutz, who by the end of the show looked like he could use a stiff drink.
For my money, this was the best debate on Chicago Tonight since my man Mick Dumke and former Alderman Berny Stone went at it over the parking-meter deal. You can check out that blast from the past right here.
Generally on Chicago Tonight, the guests are genial as they sit crammed around a little table—as if someone’s elbow’s not in your ear—and respectfully wait their turn to talk.
But in a ballsy move straight out of The Sopranos, Alderman Moore basically said fuck that namby-pamby bullshit and cut off Fioretti before he could finish his thought.
After that it was on! Everybody was talking at once so it was hard to follow what the hell the mayor’s up to with our money. A state of ignorance that mayors love.
My favorite part came when Moore told Waguespack: “One thing about us wise guys, the hustle never ends.”
Oh, wait—that line’s from The Sopranos. My bad.
By the way, is it just me or is Alderman Moore transforming into former Alderman Stone right before our eyes? His arguments defending the mayor’s $1.9 billion borrowing binge sound like the ones that Berny advanced to defend the parking-meter deal in his great debate with Mick.
And those arguments go something like this:
Stop complaining, the council got more than enough time to study it! It’s a great deal for the taxpayers! You don’t know what you’re talking about! It’s easy to criticize the great mayor of Chicago—show us your ideas! And, you leave Comley Trucking and every other fucking item on this planet that belongs to my Uncle Junior, including his hemorrhoid doughnut, the fuck alone!
I’m sorry, that last one’s also from The Sopranos.
Something Alderman Moore might want to consider:
For his years of loyalty to the mayor, Alderman Stone got knifed in the back by Mayor Daley and Mayor Rahm when he became politically expendable in the 2011 election. Beware of your new friends, Joe.
I will agree with Alderman Moore that it does indeed cost money to run government.
Of course, it’s a little late for mayoral loyalists to emphasize this point. Mayor Emanuel came into office vowing to run government without raising taxes by making it more efficient and creating bold new public-private partnerships.
Alas, here we are two years later and we’re still broke. Thus, Mayor Emanuel can either (a) jack up taxes, or (b) make more cuts.
Well, he obviously doesn’t want to do either, not on the eve of his reelection campaign.
So he’s going to do (c) borrow more money!
The mayor defends this policy on the grounds that borrowing and debt don’t really matter so much when you’re trying to spend your way out of a recession.
As the last unreconstructed New Deal Democrat in Chicago, I say, “Right on, Mayor Rahm!” Now please reopen those schools and clinics you closed in poor, black neighborhoods that have been slammed the hardest by bad times.
I have to wonder how the mayor’s going to explain his progressive ideological awakening to the various hedge-fund gazillionaires in his millionaire’s club, who view debt and deficits as sins.
Oh wait, these folks will be capturing the shy, as Mr. Soprano might call it, on the money the mayor will be borrowing with our property tax dollars.
As always, the mayor takes care of his friends. Tony Soprano would be proud.