With a war of wars erupting between Mayor Rahm and Bill Daley over who drove Chicago to the brink of bankruptcy, the time’s come to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We could hold hearings and elicit testimony from all the major players—sort of like what South Africa did after the fall of apartheid. In our case, the Big Shots would finally be forced to tell the truth and the little shots (that’s us) would try to forgive them.
This feud erupted when William Daley got sick and tired of hearing Rahm bitching and moaning about how his big brother—our former mayor Richard M. Daley—kicked the can down the road.
In short, Mayor Rahm accuses Mayor Daley of postponing unpopular tax hikes with borrowing and privatization schemes that brought in just enough money to give people the illusion city government was running just fine (even despite the corruption and waste).
Or as Rahm recently put it: “People chose their politics over the progress of the city. Did I create this problem? I did not create it. But I was gonna be determined to do something different, which is to fix it.”
By the way, it’s important to note Rahm never, ever utters the D-word when making his accusations.
Unable to take another minute of this, William Daley got on the horn to Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times, and did a little bitching and moaning of his own.
“If Emanuel didn’t know, the reality of what they took over, then he should ask his floor leader, who was there for 22 years, the Finance Committee chairman, his own CFO, who worked for the previous administration. And ask half the City Council, who were there under the previous administration and made those decisions,” he said.
As someone with no horse in this race, let me tell you—they’re both right.
Yes, Daley put off unpopular decisions on budget cuts and tax hikes until someone else had to make them. Namely, Rahm.
And, yes, Rahm, and every pol close to Rahm, knew exactly what Daley was doing as he kicked that aforementioned can down that proverbial road. But instead of intervening they cheered him on.
Think of them as enablers.
As Bill Daley said, the council floor leader for Mayors Rich and Rahm is Alderman Patrick O’Connor. His job is to champion whatever the mayor’s proposing—can-kicking or not—and scoff at criticism as misguided, impractical, purely political or all of the above.
The finance chairman is Alderman Ed Burke. His job is to hold hearings to give us the illusion that the aldermen are carefully scrutinizing an idea they’re about to rubber stamp.
Love to watch O’Connor and Burke come before the commission to nimbly dance around the question—did you really believe all that B.S. you were spewing or were you just going along?
For that matter, Rahm could testify. He rose to the top—starting as Daley’s fundraiser—by sucking up to the Boss.
In 2005, when Daley was on the ropes, engulfed in various job-rigging and affirmative action scandals, Rahm flew to Chicago to give a well-covered speech to the City Club in Daley’s defense.
Or as one writer put it: “Rahm’s challenge was to acknowledge that mistakes had been made, while absolving Mayor Daley of the blame of making them.”
Okay, I was the guy who wrote that. You know, it’s fun to quote yourself when you’re right. (Of course, if it goes the other way, it’s another story.)
After his speech, Rahm assured reporters that he would endorse Daley for re-election: “It’s more than an endorsement. I want him to run. If he chooses to do it, and I hope he does, I am going to work for his reelection.”
So let’s call Rahm to the commission: Did you know Daley was kicking the can down the road, when you made that speech? Or did you only realize it when the can came back and hit you in the head?
But don’t worry about whether Rahm and the Daleys will feud forever. I have the feeling they will patch things up on their own, even without a commission. Just call it “truthless reconciliation.”