The Week That Was: Red-Light Cameras, Fuzzy Math And Breadsticks
Photo credit: Lauri Novak
More evidence surfaced this week that our officials don’t even respect us enough to put a little effort into hiding the way we’re misled and exploited.
Take the case of the red-light cameras, which recently generated $8 million in city revenue on 77,000 tickets related to yellow lights shorter than Chicago’s autumn. The city said, in essence: “Our bad. We fired the first band of greedy corporate dullards who bribed their way into that contract. We are certain—well, let’s say hopeful—the new band greedy corporate dullards will do much better.
“Oh, and even if there IS a problem, we can have one of the city’s two embattled and hamstrung inspectors general make sure everything is on the up and up.’’ The beauty of privatization, other than the financial windfall, luxury junkets, and general abdication—having more people to blame when things go completely tits up.
How can you blame Mayor Rahm Emanuel for making Chicago the subject of the world’s largest outsourced traffic enforcement program, though? I mean, the privatization of our parking meters was such a rousing success.
Remember, this administration's privatization program taught us all new math: Fewer janitors = cleaner schools. Your understanding of math (and unfortunate possession of common sense) would have suggested the opposite.
Maybe, though, just maybe, there was a ray of hope this week, as polling showed us voters are at least vaguely aware they are being hoodwinked, in the way zombies instinctively understand when fresh brains are nearby. A poll released by 2nd Ward Alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti showed Mayor Rahm Emanuel as unpopular in Chicago than Fox News and morning traffic on the Eisenhower. (Enjoy a clip of the local Fox affiliate discussing the poll as if the comparison to Fox News didn’t exist.)
Emanuel did eke out a more favorable rating than the Green Bay Packers. That last one seemed unfair. The Packers are far more democratic.
Despite the existence of a community-owned NFL franchise, the corporate takeover of your life goes beyond red-light cameras and city services.
The culinary world abhors a vacuum, so as the final sausages from Hot Doug’s were digested and returned to the soil, Darden Restaurants, Inc, in conjunction with its starboard hedge fund partners—also know as Olive Garden—brought it’s offensively bland, suburban, girth-enhancing fare into the city proper and got a reception usually reserved for the sorts of savvy consumers who camp out for cell phones.
But hey, you can always be thankful you don’t live in North Korea, where they lack our perfect form of democracy, Olive Garden, and professional wrestling. Just as Dennis Rodman is planning his next trip to visit his BFF, the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, the little guy went and disappeared. Being a dictator is a busy life, and he very well might be tied up with more uncles to execute.
I am hoping against hope, though, that he’s training and getting in shape to be a part of whatever wrestling extravaganza Rodman is bringing to North Korea. Rodman does have experience in theater, though his performance in “Minis’’ was tragically overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.
Funny, but if you’d never heard of Kim Jong Un and were told about a short dictator who loves the Chicago Bulls, you’d think of Rahm Emanuel, right?
Speaking of mistaken identity, it was disclosed professional TV goody two shoes Stephen Collins, who played the preacher / father role on the long-running family values show “7th Heaven’’ enjoys displaying his junk to very young girls. I’m guessing there won’t be a lot of support for his redux of another religious TV classic for which he’s uniquely suited: “Touched by an Uncle.’’
While nothing tops the creepiness of people like Collins, there is a particularly oleaginous feel to the ceremonial groundbreaking held at Wrigley this week. Men in $5,000 suits, with smooth, callous-free hands posed with shovels and smiles. At least the cliched photos with giant checks or oversized scissors and ribbons have prop comedy value.
Next season you can go to Wrigley and be bombarded with corporate advertising, pointless distractions, fictional moving van races, and blaring pop music just like any other mall-style stadium in the country. Bring on the girls in short shorts shooting t-shirt cannons.
Don’t despair, though, like a Palin family brawl nothing lasts forever. In what seems like a trial-balloon for a potential solution to the city’s pension crisis, Mayor Emanuel’s brother, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician and bioethicist, suggested we should all be so lucky as to die at 75. Rahm was quick to disagree—at least publicly.
If it’s not a part of an Emanuel austerity program and Zeke was just crying for attention, we should cut him some slack. It has to be tough being from a family in which a successful oncologist, bio-ethicist and presidential healthcare adviser is the underachiever of the family.
And that was the week that was.
—Anthony Burke Boylan