With 3 1/2 weeks to go, I couldn't be more apathetic about the Chicago mayoral elections. It's more lethergy than political bias; there's just nothing about any of the candidates that inspire me. As it stands the title of hizzoner is a two-man race between Rahm Emanuel, who was nearly kicked off the ballot last week for not meeting residency standards, and Gery Chico, who lacks his opponent's flash and name recognition but has demonstrated far more substance. Former U.S. Senator and onetime presidential hopeful Carol Moseley Braun was an early contender, but this incident involving a more obscure mayoral opponent basically killed her candidacy just as it was gaining momentum. I'm in full support of honesty in politics, but wow...
Regardless of who wins later this month, Rich Daley's successor has a tall order to follow: money woes, unemployment, a growing crime rate and a soaring murder rate. The mayor of Chicago is the landowner of a urban serfdom; you would think he was the de facto ruler of northeast Illinois from the attention he receives on the 10 o'clock news. The urban legend that Daley the Elder swayed the 1960 election from Nixon to Kennedy is mostly a right-wing conspiracy --JFK won Illinois in a landslide that year, so it wouldn't have mattered-- but the mayor's impact as a Democratic persuader and negotiator on the state and (to a degree) national scene is equally unheralded and indispensable. Where Emanuel would fit that role to a tee, Chico seems more like a pragmatic, transparent type of mayor. And yet, it would mean absolutely nothing to me if either man won.
+ As many of you have heard by now, the Illinois government voted to raise state taxes by 66%. The only good thing that came of this was that it was lower than the original proposed hike, which was 75%. The spike was justified by the crippling debt that faces our state, and 66% was the bare-bones minimum to keep everything running. To put this into context: a year ago, the average Illinoisan forked over 3% of their annual wages to the state. Now it's 5%. Considering that Pat Quinn won a full term in office by the slimmest of margins, I wouldn't say this tax hike endeared him to any of his political opponents.
+ Good news: after a four-week layover, I'm back on a temp job. Bad news: that means driving three towns over in a winter storm that the local media has alternately dubbed "Snowmageddon," "The Snowpocalyse," and "Point of Snow Return." More bad news: I also have to work Super Bowl Sunday, which means missing improv class for the very first time I began nearly two years ago. Sort of good news: there are four other Level 4B sessions during the week, so I can make it up then.
+ Speaking of the Super Bowl, this might be the first time in years that I couldn't care less about either team. As a Bears fan, you couldn't persuade me to root for Green Bay if you tried, and between Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger I can't decide which Pennsylvania NFL team has the more disgusting human being for a quarterback. I concluded after watching the AFC Championship last week that I'll probably root for the commercials.