It was a typical year in Chicago. There were the giants who did the stepping and the ants who got stepped on. Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers in 2007. –Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke
Winner: Photoshop. With the help of the photo editing program, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. extended his political reach without having to miss any karate sessions at his favorite dojo. One and the same picture of him was used on billboard and campaign literature for each candidate he endorsed — his wife Sandi included. When asked why Jackson didn’t just pose with his wife, whom he presumably sees now and then, a congressional aide said: “That’s the winning formula, the winning strategy.”
Loser: Cook County commissioner William Beavers. The self-proclaimed “hog with the big nuts” thought his daughter Darcel’s election as Seventh Ward alderman was in the bag. Then he realized that Jackson had secured every billboard around, saturating the south side. Sandi Jackson went on to trounce Darcel Beavers.
Winners: Ducks and geese. Critics of alderman Joe Moore’s foie gras ban vowed to overturn it, but the legislation never advanced. As a result, animal rights advocates say, fewer fowl have iron rods thrust down their throats in force-feeding.
Losers: Lovers of foie gras and haters of Moore’s ordinance, including Mayor Daley, aldermen Berny Stone and Tom Tunney, and Moore’s 49th Ward opponent Don Gordon, who mostly succeeded in inspiring animal rights activists to rally support for the ban across the city.
Winners: Service-sector unions, which became major players in the City Council by helping bankroll the victories of self-proclaimed reformers and independents such as Bob Fioretti, Pat Dowell, Sandi Jackson, Toni Foulkes, Joann Thompson, Brendan Reilly, and Joe Moore.
Losers: Service-sector unions, who watched while many of those “independents” sank into the comfy cushions of their City Council seats and voted for TIFs, higher taxes, eminent domain deals, and other Daley administration initiatives.
Winners: Mayor Daley, who was able to enjoy a bike ride around Paris; Governor Blagojevich, who chilled at a Blackhawks game; Michael Madigan, who continued to bring home big bucks as a property tax appeal lawyer; and Emil Jones, who kept dreaming of new casinos in Illinois … while CTA bailout plans crashed in the general assembly.
Losers: CTA riders, at least some of whom are wondering if they should choose the more efficient option of skateboarding to work.
Winner: Former 42nd Ward alderman Burt Natarus. By losing his reelection battle to Brendan Reilly, Natarus no longer has to put up with ceaseless whining from Gold Coast constituents.
Loser: Brendan Reilly. Since he’s had the job, Mayor Daley’s all but called him a bigot for opposing the move of the Chicago Children’s Museum to Grant Park and a kid hater for asking questions about plans by Children’s Memorial Hospital to move to the Gold Coast. Plus he has to answer all those calls that used to go to Natarus.
Winners: The boys and girls soccer teams from the Latin School, one of the city’s wealthiest and most exclusive private schools. The Park District gave them (as in for free) prime lakefront park property to build a soccer field.
Losers: Pretty much all of the public high school soccer teams, who have to play on lumpy, potholed, precariously uneven fields.
Winners: Elite athletes from around the world. Mayor Daley is planning to spend untold billions building them state-of-the-art track, swimming, field hockey, and equestrian facilities for the 2016 Olympics.
Losers: Chicagoans, who don’t have, among other things, consistent access to swimming pools, well-lit gyms, unslippery basketball courts, or a single indoor running track.
Winner: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who in exchange for obsequiously endorsing Daley for reelection won a pledge from the mayor not to use any public money for the 2016 Olympics.
Loser: Congressman Gutierrez. Once safely reelected, Daley broke his promise and got the council to commit $500 million for the Olympics.
Winner: Mayor Daley. Thanks to TIFs, Daley’s getting well over $500 million a year in off-the-books property taxes that he’s pretty much free to dish out to favored developers, businesses, cronies, and friends.
Losers: Voters, who reelected Daley with more than 70 percent of the ballots, seemingly on the grounds that Chicago’s not as bad as Gary or Detroit. In the words of a one-time civil rights activist who’s now a key Daley ally, “But don’t those flowers look nice?”