Saturday, May 19, 2012


Here in Chicago, our media (especially the electronic kind) have contracted hives. They have become all itchy and scratchy over the impending NATO summit.

Road closures and changes in public transportation schedules are reported with a barely-controlled mania, and are examined, dissected and speculated on with the deadly seriousness normally accorded an outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria. No change is too insignificant to escape the attention only massive chunks of airtime at four-thirty, six and ten can provide.

Law enforcement’s preparations follow right behind, as the Democratic convention of 1968 is routinely revisited as an ominous harbinger of things to come. Yes, there are going to be protesters, and they may protest! Even as we speak they are preparing to converge on our fair city.

Can we roll that convention footage one more time? Oh my.

Yes, life as we know it is going to cease. What goes unreported are the issues facing NATO, and why they are likely to spawn protest. Wait. Isn’t that, like, serious or something?

Meanwhile, the ravages of the two-decades-long Daley administration continue to surface, and are barely reported. At least electronically.

The latest is his artful manipulation of our convoluted state and municipal pension systems, to the point where Mr. Mayor’s extraordinarily modest contributions (he avoided more than 400K of them) have miraculously yielded a lavish 183K per-annum pension.

By somehow spending one month in the state legislature’s pension fund and then returning to Chicago’s municipal pension fund, Daley became eligible for eighty-five percent of his mayoral salary. I probably don’t need to tell you there isn’t another employee of the City of Chicago who can touch that percentage.

Despite my considerable excitement at the prospect of spending the next 27.3 hours at my part-time, temporary job paying off the state’s title transfer, license plate and driver’s license fees, I am made even more excited knowing it is going to assist in the fulfillment of extravagant pensions for folk like our former mayor.

And Daley isn’t the only one—not by a long shot. (This is Illinois, after all.) In one especially galling example, Chicago Federation of Labor president Dennis Gannon was given a city job for a single day, which in turn made him eligible for a public pension based on his 200K salary with the CFL.

Wow. Have eight hours on the job ever made you eligible for a pension? Anywhere? I’m guessing the answer is no.

But in the eyes of our twitchy, panic-button-pushing media, this can’t hold a candle to the visceral, bowel-rumbling anxiety that a possible road closure or cops in riot gear can generate. Never mind a rolling closure of the Kennedy Expressway.

I’m sure it’s just my addled sense of things that leads me to believe that the likes of Mayor Daley and our two disgraced former governors have done more to cripple our city and our state than any invective-hurling protester could ever dream of.

It just doesn’t make for provocative TV, I guess.