If Mayor Rahm loses next year’s election, we’ll have no need to worry about what he’ll do next—clearly, he has a great future in comedy.
At the very least, Rahm’s appearance last week with host Paris Schutz on Chicago Tonight demonstrates he’s worked up hilarious new material on the issue of ballot initiatives.
OK, I realize that’s not generally the source of great comedy. But in Rahm’s hands—man, it’s knee-slapping hilarity.
To appreciate the joke you have to realize that the law limits the city to three advisory ballot questions per election.
So if the mayor wants to keep voters from weighing in on a policy he opposes, all he has to do is command the City Council to cram the ballot with three questions he doesn’t care about.
And so he kept us from getting to vote on an elected school board by asking us if we want a say in where medical marijuana dispensaries are located.
Like anybody would be against that.
This year Rahm had to figure out a way to keep former governor Pat Quinn from placing a binding mayoral term-limit question on November’s ballot.
If it passed, Rahm couldn’t run for reelection next year.
Quinn has enough obstacles trying to round up the 50,000 valid signatures by the August 6 deadline.
But just to throw another roadblock in his way, Mayor Rahm had the aldermen place three nonbinding questions on November’s ballot.
So voters will get to decide, among other things, whether they want to ban plastic straws or whether they want the state to give them a property tax break.
Hmmm, do voters want to pay less in taxes? That ought to be a real cliff-hanger of a vote.
On his WTTW show, Schutz pointed out that most people see this for what it is—a thinly disguised attempt to thwart Quinn by cramming the ballot with frivolous questions.
Goodness no, the mayor responded, as though he were horrified Schutz would even suggest such a thing. Instead, Rahm said he was just “seeking guidance from the voters.”
See what I mean about great material? Oh, my god, Mr. Mayor, you’re killing me. I haven’t heard so many funny jokes since I was up late last night, watching Rodney Dangerfield YouTube clips. (“My wife and I smoke after sex. I haven’t smoked in a month. She’s up to a pack a day.”)
How about this for a ballot question, Mr. Mayor?
“Does Mayor Rahm give a damn about what we think on, oh, anything?”
Even the mayor would have to vote no on that.
Just to name a couple of proposals Rahm’s trying to stuff down our throats, no questions asked.
The third question on November’s ballot is whether money from legalizing marijuana should help pay for mental health services.
This is an example of darkly biting cruel Rahm humor.
First, Mayor Rahm’s resisted efforts to legalize marijuana. Second, it was Rahm who unilaterally closed mental health clinics in high-crime, poor areas—where they were desperately needed—back in 2011.
The mayor never asked us whether he should close those clinics.
No, at one point he dashed out a back door rather than meet with patients and activists who were begging that he’d keep those clinics open.
Obviously, Mayor Rahm must be running out of ballot-stuffing questions, if he suddenly wants to know what we think about mental health services.
Here’s the kicker. Quinn says the law gives his term-limit question ballot preference because it’s a binding—not advisory—referendum.
If a judge rules Quinn’s way, we would get to vote on mayoral term limits, no matter how many advisory questions the mayor stuffs on the ballot. A simple majority vote would knock Rahm out.
In other words, ultimately the joke could be on Rahm.