For most of the year I rant and rail about the really bad ideas and behavior of our elected officials—and, trust me, I’ll get to Mayor Rahm’s $800 million or so Lincoln Yard TIF handout in a subsequent column real soon.
But with Thanksgiving just around the corner I figured I’d keep up an old tradition of offering a word or two of gratitude to the people I must be thankful for over the last year.
So without further ado, thanks to . . .
The roughly 2.7 million voters of Illinois who bounced Governor Bruce Rauner from office. Yes, I realize many of you were the same voters who voted him in four years ago. And, yes, it took the deep pockets of J.B. Pritzker, who more than went dollar-for-dollar with Rauner in commercials and still had enough cash left over to buy a $12.1 million horse farm in Florida. That’s real money, folks.
So, good job, Illinois voters. And, J.B., if you come through on your promises regarding legal reefer, progressive taxes, an elected school board in Chicago, and more money for education—you can buy as many horse farms in Florida as you want.
Terry Cosgrove, executive director of Personal PAC, the reproductive rights group. After Rauner let it be known that he was ready to throw his pro-choice allies under the bus and veto HB-40, Cosgrove helped make such a ruckus that Rauner had to pull a second back flip and sign the abortion-rights bill. That enraged arch-conservative Jeanne Ives so much that she ran against Rauner in the Republican primary—causing a division within the GOP ranks that helped seal Rauner’s defeat. Well played, TC.
The 1.3 million Cheeseheads who elected Tony Evers as governor, finally bouncing Scott Walker from office after two terms. Clearly, many were motivated by their disgust at Walker for forking over about $4.1. billion in public money to Foxconn to build a manufacturing facility in southern Wisconsin. Walker also discarded many environmental oversights, pretty much leaving Foxconn free to pollute our lake and air. And speaking of unwarranted public handouts to gazillionaires who don’t need it . . .
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (in a backhanded sort of way) for saving Chicago and Illinois taxpayers at least $2.1 billion by taking your HQ2 to New York City and Virginia. The $2.1 or so billion is the money Mayor Rahm and Rauner were desperately trying to take from our schools, parks, police, etc. and give to Bezos, if he would please (pretty please) come to Chicago.
New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez for saying she didn’t necessarily want Amazon to come to her Queens congressional district, even after Bezos “gave it” to them. Well, Bezos didn’t actually give the headquarters to New York. He exchanged it for at least $2.8 billion in various subsidies and tax breaks that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo bestowed upon him. Learn from Ocasio-Cortez, Chicago congresspeople—being a good hometown citizen is not the same thing as signing on to every wasteful idea your mayor and governor promote.
Troy LaRaviere, for speaking out against Rahm’s wasteful ideas over the last eight years, long before such outspokenness was politically fashionable. Troy recently dropped his campaign for mayor because he didn’t have the money to compete and he obviously hated making those fund-raising calls. But we could always use a little more political courage in Chicago. Speaking of which…
Karen Lewis, former president of the Chicago Teachers Union, who retired this year for health reasons. If mayoral candidates like Amara Enyia, Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Garry McCarthy, Lori Lightfoot, and Jamal Green are “gangstas” for having the guts to announce their candidacies before Rahm dropped out of the race, then Karen’s the OG, ’cause she stood up to him back in 2011 when most pols were hiding under their desks.
Maria Hernandez, Jesse Hoyt, Ryan Kelleher and all the other young Chicago activists who have steadily embarrassed their elders into, well, if not doing the right thing then at least scrambling to explain why they’re not, on issues like police shootings, gentrification, unfair taxes, and that $95 million TIF-funded police academy. I tease millennials about how all they care about is their iPhones, but I’m just kidding. Though, while I have your attention—how do you make your pictures do that little bouncy thing on Instagram?
Alaina Hampton, Sherri Garrett, and the other courageous voices in the local #MeToo movement who jeopardized their careers by stepping forward to say enough with this bullshit.
Katie and Tim Tuten, co-owners of the endangered Hideout, who rallied a bunch of hipsters to come out in protest over Rahm’s aforementioned Lincoln Yard TIF handout. I welcome just about anything that wakes Chicagoans up to the ongoing TIF scam. Finally, on a personal note…
The folks at the Reader, including two of the new leaders, Eileen Rhodes and Tracy Baim, who took me out for a delicious breakfast at Chef Petros restaurant and invited me to stick around while they took over the paper. And to editors Kate Schmidt, Aimee Levitt, Sue Kwong, and Philip Montoro, who kept the Reader going during the dark days of the summer when I feared we might go out of business. And to Edwin Eisendrath, my old owner (stick around long enough, and you’re going to get a whole bunch of different owners), who put together a team of investors in 2017 that snatched the Reader and Sun-Times from being purchased and then swallowed up and out of existence by the Tribune. And, of course . . .
Reader readers, everywhere, who’ve been reading us for all these years. We’re still here raising hell.
So thank you one and all and onward upward, as they say. We’ve got a mayor’s race to cover and sleazy TIF deals to expose.
Enjoy your turkey, everybody.