Posts Tagged ‘chicago’

By John Ruberry

Okay, Republicans, you have an easy lay-up shot at the basket. But of course, sure things, such as Red Wave midterm blowouts, can end up as air balls. 

America’s worst big city mayor, Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, is running for reelection. She has eight opponents, a couple of whom, such as Ja’Mal Green and the Chicago Teachers Union-endorsed Brandon Johnson, are extreme leftists who provide answers to the question, “Can Chicago have a worse mayor than Lori Lightfoot?

Chicago’s elections are non-partisan. In the likely scenario that no candidate achieves 50 percent of the vote in the first round of voting, which is February 28, the top two candidates face off in an April 4 runoff. As with the congressional midterms, polling has been all over the place in the mayoral race, but the top four candidates in terms of popularity appear to be Lightfoot, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, businessman and vote-buyer Willie Wilson, and US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. 

The Chicago mayoral race is the first major election, unless you count December’s Georgia Senate runoff race, since the collapse of cryptocurrency firm FTX.

By most accounts Garcia, who endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, was the early frontrunner in the contest. But then Lightfoot went on the attack. 

You see, Garcia’s congressional campaign fund accepted $2,900 from former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who was indicted last year for charges surrounding the collapse of the crypto currency firm. Worse, SBF’s PAC, Protect our Futures, spent over $150,000 on glossy mailers sent to Chuy’s remapped and gerrymandered 4th congressional district to introduce him to new voters for the 2022 Democratic primary. Only Garcia was running unopposed in that race. Chuy is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees cryptocurrency. The $2,900 Bankman-Fried contribution to Garcia has since been donated to charity.

And Lighfoot’s attack appears to be a solid blow against Garcia in a TV spot where she connects Garcia not only to SBF, but also to former Illinois Democratic Party chairman and state House speaker, Boss Michael Madigan, who was indicted last year, as well as Chicago’s deservedly unpopular red-light cameras. 

Most of the Lightfoot attack ad against Garcia begins at the 1:22 mark in this Fox Chicago video.

The upshot? In the two most recent polls, one that you should look at with suspicion comes from an internal survey from the Lightfoot campaign, and the other one from a suburban Republican pollster, Garcia has dropped to third place. Lighfoot’s poll has her on in the lead, the other poll has Vallas in the lead with Lighfoot close behind–but both surveys have the top two in a statistical tie. 

Garcia, although he did force Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in the 2015 mayoral race, is accustomed to comfortable elections, so it might be a struggle for Chuy to fight back.

Back to the GOP.  

Republicans, you know, or should know, what to do. Target every Democrat who has taken Sam Bankman-Fried cash so hard that voters will believe that these Dems have SBF as a running mate.

Even if it means following Lori Lightfoot’s lead.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just north off Chicago at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

America’s worst big city mayor, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, finds herself in trouble again. 

Last week, Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, reported that Lightfoot’s deputy campaign manager, Megan Crane, sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers and City Colleges of Chicago instructors, telling them the campaign was seeking students to volunteer as “externs” for Lightfoot’s reelection effort. “Lightfoot for Chicago is seeking resumes from any volunteer interested in campaign politics and eager to gain experience in the field,” the email read. Later in that message comes a quasi-bribe, “Externs are expected to devote 12hrs/wk to the campaign. Students are eligible to earn class credit through our volunteer program.”

When the email became public, the campaign quickly defended its call for volunteers, avowing in a statement that the request was done “to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with our campaign, learn more about the importance of civic engagement and participate in the most American of processes.”

But in a second statement, the campaign said it would “cease contact with CPS employees” citing an “abundance of caution.”

Finally, a couple of hours later, in a third statement, they finally surrendered. “All campaign staff have been reminded about the solid wall that must exist between campaign and official activities and that contacts with any city of Chicago, or other sister agency employees, including CPS employees,” the campaign said, “even through publicly available sources is off limits. Period.”

Last summer, after Willie Wilson, a gadfly candidate who is running for mayor, gathered a lot of attention for gasoline and grocery giveaways, Lightfoot followed suit with her giveaways. But unlike Wilson’s generosity, the mayor’s handouts were paid for by taxpayers.

Laura Washington, a liberal Chicago Tribune columnist, had this to say back in August in a behind-the-paywall op-ed:

Thanks to an “avalanche” of federal stimulus funds, Lightfoot is “running for reelection armed with a seemingly bottomless gift bag of giveaways that includes everything from gas cards, Ventra cards, bicycles, locks and helmets to more than $1,000-per-household in rebates to defray the cost of security cameras, outdoor motion sensor lighting, cloud storage and GPS trackers to hunt down vehicles in the event of an auto theft or carjacking,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported in June. 

Lightfoot’s “Chicago Moves,” is the city’s $12 million transit response to skyrocketing fuel costs and inflation. It will distribute up to 50,000 prepaid $150 gas cards and 100,000 prepaid $50 transit cards to Chicago residents. 

Earlier this year, Lightfoot pushed through a controversial guaranteed income program for low-income families. The pilot program will provide no-strings-attached $500 payments to 5,000 Chicago families per month for a year. The recipients were chosen through a lottery system.

“By coincidence,” Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery sarcastically opined this morning on his Flannery Fired Up program, “each [gas and public transit] card had Mayor Lighfoot’s name emblazoned right on it.”

The ACLU of Illinois forcefully condemned the campaign’s call for student volunteers. “It is striking that Mayor Lightfoot presented herself four years ago as a candidate who would eschew the old corrupt patronage ways of Chicago politics,” the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement, “Now her campaign employs practices that harken back to the worst days of the Chicago political machine.”

And the ACLU of Illinois says the call-for-volunteers email may have violated federal law.

Crime has skyrocketed since Lightfoot took office. And it shouldn’t surprise you that Chicago’s population is declining. “The city is dying,” former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass has said at least a couple of times in his Chicago Way podcast.

Lightfoot faces eight opponents in next month’s first round of voting for mayor. In the likely scenario that no candidate achieves a majority in the initial round, the top two candidates face the voters again in April.

In the only opinion poll so far on this race, Lightfoot finished third.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Lori Lightfoot

 By John Ruberry

A poll with surprising findings was released on Thursday by Fox Chicago about Chicago’s mayoral election on Friday. Yeah, yeah, I know, many political polls about the recently concluded congressional elections were wrong, and there were serious polling errors in 2016 and 2018 as well. But stick with me here.

The mayoral poll, conducted by M3 Strategies, shows that US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is favored by 28 percent of respondents, followed by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas at 19 percent, incumbent Lori Lightfoot at 15 percent, and Willie Wilson, a businessman and philanthropist, at 13 percent. 

There are eleven candidates for mayor of America’s third-largest–for now–city, although petition challenges might winnow the field. The first round of voting, along with races for alderpersons in each of Chicago’s 50 wards, as well as for city clerk and treasurer, will be held on February 28, if no candidates achieve a majority in their races, the top two candidates are matched in an April runoff. 

So, if the poll is correct, that means that Lori Lightfoot, who in my opinion is America’s worst big city mayor, she won’t make it to the second round. Lightfoot’s term in mayor has been disastrous on many levels–too many to list here.

On the latest episode Fox Chicago Flannery Fired Up show, host Mike Flannery said about crime, “nearly three-fourths of Chicago voters now say is their number one issue.” Lightfoot, as a candidate said that the crime levels of 2019 were “unacceptable.” Flannery then fact checked Lightfoot’s recent statement that “we are down 15 percent in homicides, 20 percent in shootings.” But those are numbers looking back to last year. Flannery did the right thing, scolding Lightfoot.

“When she took office in 2019,” Flannery said, “she inherited a dramatically declining rate of bloody street violence, but the medical examiner reports that homicides this year are 41 percent higher than in 2019.”

It’s easy to understand why Lightfoot is polling so terribly. M3 Strategy’s Matt Podgorski was a guest on that Flannery Fired Up installment, of the incumbent he said, “You’re looking at a situation where [there is] a negative view of 74 percent of likely voters and about 70 percent of them think she does not deserve another term. Only two percent of Chicago voters haven’t formed an opinion of Mayor Lightfoot.”

“Those are unprecedently bad numbers,” Podgorski concluded.

I can’t see a way out for Lightfoot. Apparently, Chicago voters, up to a point, aren’t completely stupid. 

Besides her inability to stem Chicago’s rise in violence–which her apologists point out is part of a national increase in mayhem while failing to mention that Los Angeles and New York, which are more populous, have lower murder totals–Lightfoot’s petulant and overbearing COVID-19 lockdown policy produced a tragic irony. After she spotted a large group of males congregating on a beach, the next day she ordered Chicago police officers to enforce the closure of that beach. Later that day, cops did next to nothing as rioters tore up and looted Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue shopping district. 

Lightfoot has acted bizarrely, once allegedly told an Italian-American group who supports the return of Chicago’s Christopher Columbus statues to public view, “I have the biggest d*ck in Chicago.” She once went full-Jack Nicholson in The Shining in a repetitive email rant. 

Chicago voters, as I alluded earlier, still have much room for improvement. Chuy Garcia, then a Cook County commissioner, surprisingly forced incumbent Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in the 2015 mayoral race, running to the left of Emanuel. In 2016 Garcia endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. Last year the leftist magazine In These Times, in a collaboration with the Chicago Reader, gushingly wrote of Garcia’s working with the Squad in Washington, “It’s not surprising that García has taken up with Congress’ left rebels.” 

Garcia enjoys a sizeable lead in the Fox Chicago poll. Garcia collected $2,900 from indicted FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Worse, the Protect our Futures PAC spent over $150,000 on glossy mailers to introduce Garcia to new voters in his redrawn congressional district, even though Chuy was running unopposed in the November election.

Buying something, SBF?

What about the other two top contenders to replace Lightfoot? Willie Wilson, a gadfly candidate who somehow has convinced some Chicago conservatives he is one of them, can arguably–because of his regular grocery and gasoline giveaways--be called a vote buyer. Paul Vallas, another perennial candidate, is the only mayoral candidate talking real sense about crime. Unless I missed something, he’s the only mayoral candidate who is explicitly critical of Cook County’s catch-and-release prosecutor, Kim Foxx. 

Whoever is Chicago’s next mayor, the, ahem, winner faces a monumental series of challenges. Besides crime, the mayor will have to cope with a declining tax base, as businesses are fleeing. And Chicago’s pension bomb looms–eventually it will explode. Chicago is the most corrupt city in America. And what about the lead in Chicago’s water pipes?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

On the evening of November 8, a woman from Skokie, Illinois, which is the town just east of where I live, was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Interstate 55 just south of Springfield, Illinois. 

The victim, Lauren Wegner, 35, by all accounts a wonderful woman, was fatally injured when a GMC Sierra, according to police officials driven by Shane Woods, 44 of Auburn, Illinois, drove the wrong way on the interstate.

The Chicago media and other sources in the Prairie State have been repeatedly reporting on this story. And a primary reason for its deep interest in it appears to be because Woods, also known as Shane Castleman, pleaded guilty in September to assaulting a Capitol Police officer and a media photographer during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in January. Woods faces up to eight years in prison for those crimes. Woods of course faces much more serious prison time if he is found guilty of killing Wegner–from 20 to 60 years. He has been charged with first degree murder, eluding a police officer, aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, and aggravated fleeing. Woods is being held in the Sangamon County Jail, bail has been denied.

Once again, and probably not for the last time, I feel it is important that I unequivocally denounce the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Those people who stormed the Capitol on that sad day, including Woods, who destroyed property and attacked people deserve to be punished.

But just like MSNBC, the Illinois media can’t let go of obsessing over January 6. In regard to the Wegner death, the worst example of that obsession in regard to the Woods story is a State Journal-Register article from November 16 that was as much about the Capitol riot and Donald Trump as it was about the victim. The piece even mentions two men from Springfield who also allegedly participated in the riot–both of whom have no connection to the accident that killed Wegner. Was that necessary?

Absolutely, the January 6 angle is a valid part of the story of the fatal accident, as it appears Woods may have been trying to commit suicide when he started his SUV on the evening of November 8.

Here are some of the Illinois media headlines of stories that I found about the deadly car accident after a Google News search. Yes, some national outlets picked up the story too.

Also, Shia Kapos’ Politico Illinois Playbook newsletter linked to January 6/Woods stories on November 14, 16, 17, and 23.

Media obsession over January 6? I believe so. But I expect the drumbeat to continue. As for Woods, he is a despicable person.

Memorial contributions in the name of Lauren Wegner can be made to Community Animal Rescue Effort of Skokie (carenorthshore.org).

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.