Lightfoot is Gone, but New Mayor Johnson Bodes Ill For Chicago
I was born and raised in Chicago. Much of my professional life was devoted to the civic and political life of the City. I loved the city and the people, even as I opposed the corruption and racism of the Chicago Democrat Machine.
During my years in Chicago, it was known as “The City that Works.” There was some truth to that. The corruption had not yet taken its full toll – although the segregation and oppression of blacks were unfortunately disgraceful.
The City was in great financial condition, the streets were clean, and graffiti was limited to Hispanic artistry. Long ruled over by the powerful Democrat Machine, Chicago was the American version of a Banana Republic with Major Richard J. Daley as “Da boss.”
His quarter century in power was followed by another quarter century of bossism by his son, Richard M. – separated by a 13-year gap in which several short-term mayors held the office, including the first and second black mayors and the first woman mayor).
Chicago today is not the City I knew – nor is it the City that works. And based on the results of the recent election, Chicago will continue on the path of decline and destruction. The last thing the Windy City needed was a radical left-wing mayor.
Voters rejected the commonsense reform policies of a moderate Democrat (a Daley-type without the racism) who would have set a positive corrective course for the City.
The election of a government bureaucrat and union leader, Brandon Johnson, is exactly what Chicago did not need. It means more of the very policies that have put Chicago in its current condition will not only remain but they will also be expanded.
For all the faults of the Daley Machine, it did focus on the fundamentals of city services. Criminals were to be tracked down and arrested – not coddled. The local prosecutors did not pledge to NOT enforce laws based on left-wing social or woke principles. Streets were kept clean, parks well-groomed, and infrastructure well-maintained. Housing and zoning laws keep neighborhoods vibrant. (Of course, none of that was true in the segregated black communities – but that is another story.)
In recent years, Chicago has been a less friendly and more unlivable City. The corruption and racism started to catch up. Taxes and crime rose under increasing left-wing leadership – starting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was wokeness before that term was popularized. He was followed by the disastrous term of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Despite the disenchantment with Lightfoot, a bare majority of the voters elected to follow the same course to further decline.
Mayor-elect Johnson’s policing policies had led to the police union endorsement of his opponent, Paul Vallas – and a prediction that a thousand police would resign if Johnson was elected. Johnson’s election means more pro-criminal policies and less support for the police.
The crime wave will continue.
Johnson’s budgeting proposals mean more investment in social programs and less in business development. He will find it very difficult to avoid more tax increases. As a school teacher, you can rest assured that the failing Chicago schools will continue to fail – and thousands of minority children will be denied quality education. The unions that have failed the school children will have more authority than ever.
Crime and high taxes – and lousy schools — have been the primary reason for the exodus of citizens and businesses from Chicago. That trend will now continue or even accelerate.
We have seen this movie before. It is called Detroit. The once vibrant headquarters of the automobile industry has been essentially reduced to third-world status. Its tax base has collapsed to the point that many of the basic city services and social programs can no longer be funded.
I am very pessimistic about Chicago’s future. And despite what my critics may suggest, it is not because Johnson is black. I worked very closely with the first black mayor, Harold Washington, who I considered a political adversary in many ways but a personal friend. He was why I was appointed senior advisor to the Chicago Board of Education. And I was the campaign spokesman for the second black mayor, Eugene Sawyer. It is not Johnson’s skin color, but his socialist political philosophy that is the problem.
So, there ‘tis.