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The Week That Was: Aug. 25 to Aug. 31

By Staff in News on Aug 31, 2014 8:00PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wore his shiny new Jackie Robinson West t-shirt over his dress shirt in a way that only politicians do at the team rally Wednesday, as if to say, “I won’t be here long enough to wear it properly.’’

He was just one of the many politicians hitching their wagon to the Disney movie that was the JRW Little League World Series run, though he was the only one who scared the kids. They thought he might be there to close one of their schools. They were reassured, however, when he informed them that’s something he usually does that while on ski trips.

But Rahm, a consummate politician, was able to connect with the South Side crowd made up mostly of moderate-and lower-income African American families and show he truly is a man of the people. He did so by calling on his childhood experience as a dancer at the prestigious Evanston School of Ballet, of course.

It wasn’t just politicians on the JRW bandwagon, though. The team’s reception rated a visit from Chance the Rapper, though Chief Keef—whose name doesn’t conveniently state his profession and thus allows him to be mistaken for a Native American mascot—was unable to negotiate terms of a surrender in time to make it.

Elsewhere, Vice President Joe Biden came through town without making a single gaffe. Biden and Rahm gave each other a platform to proclaim their support for a higher minimum wage. Workers in Chicago and around the nation politely reminded both of them that talking about a higher wage doesn’t put additional money in their pockets—they have to actually pass legislation.

Speaking of wages, Chicago cab drivers didn’t get any help when Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislation that would have required driver background checks, vehicle inspections and more stringent insurance. This ensured Chicago’s less rigorous standards could go into effect and return more profit to Uber investors Ari Emanuel, Goldman Sachs, and Ashton Kutcher as the wages of immigrant refugee drivers from Somalia fall even further below the current minimum wage Rahm keeps promising to raise.

For those of you keeping score, Goldman Sachs is Rahm’s former employer, the taxi industry in Chicago employs 30,000 to Uber’s potential 425, it pays $25 million in annual state and city taxes, and $60 million in insurance premiums every year. To Uber’s credit, though, it’s really big with hipsters and the self-congratulatory tech startup crowd, and has a valuation of $18.2 billion.

Uber’s victory was the result of hard work done by an army of lobbyists, including a former Quinn chief of staff and David Plouffe, a former campaign manager and White House advisor to President Barack Obama, which never missed a chance to malign the “politically connected’’ taxi industry. And that good news for Uber came amid increasing allegations the company is sabotaging its competition, especially Lyft, with bogus calls that waste time for the drivers and cost them money.

Who would have guessed a company with a German name could be so ruthless?

On the subject of traffic snarls, frustration and gridlock, the Circle Interchange was renamed for former Mayor Jane Byrne.

She was, after all, the greatest reformer in Chicago history ... at least for four years before the next greatest reformer in Chicago history replaced her. Gov. Quinn said the renaming would have “her name on the lips of every traffic report daily in the city.” He did not estimate the number of times that name would be connected to rush-hour-related profanity.

Speaking of profanity, federal inmate No. 40892-424—also known as former Gov. Rod Blagojevich— wrote an anniversary letter to his wife so unromantic it would have been the envy of the characters in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It was the 24th year of their wedded bliss nearly halfway to the one Rod is sure to describe as “fucking golden.’’

And that was...the week that was.

By: Tony Boylan