The [Friday] Papers
Like a Supreme Court justice nominee who pretends he or she has never formed an opinion about Roe v. Wade, Transparency Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pretending he has no opinion worth sharing about this week's city sticker controversy.
"That was yesterday," he said. "My job is to focus on what is essential to the city."
Where do these creatures come from? The Chicago River? A secret lab?
You are the mayor. You brag about making tough choices. You scream at teachers. You crack down on protesters. Can you just tell us what you think about the city sticker? Because the rest of us are confused.
Did you have a conversation with City Clerk Susana Mendoza? Did you discuss the issue with your advisers? Did you talk to your police chief? Did you commission a poll to see if you should comment?
What's in your heart, Rahm? The medical evidence suggests you have one, no matter how cold and dark.
Would it really have been that hard to say, oh, something like this:
"You know, it's a tough call. It's hard to tell if those are gang symbols or we're only seeing that after having the idea implanted in our minds. It's hard to know what's up with the kid - his Facebook postings didn't help but his tears sure seemed real. So Clerk Mendoza had a tough choice to make. She didn't consult with me, but it makes a certain amount of sense that if this is the way the public is going to perceive the sticker, it can't be used."
But that was yesterday. And Rahm likes to control the message - every day.
(The Chicago's News Cooperative's Jim Warren recently illuminated a slice of how that works; when reporters weren't broaching the subject of a longer school day, which the mayor wanted to discuss, "An aide suggested to some attendees that Emanuel would be amenable to an inquiry on the topic." It would have been nice if reporters said, No thanks, we have some other questions we'd like to ask.)
For years - for the whole of my career, really - I've expressed my exasperation at how a compliant media allows its behavior to be shaped by political messaging strategies more sophisticated than the strategies journalists use to hold public officials (and others with power) accountable.
In this case, having failed at the front, I would suggest attacking from the back. The mayor's refusal to address the city sticker controversy is a blaring, top of page one headline in my book. So is a running tally of such topics and instances.
And on Thursday, we got a two-fer.
The settlement is just the latest instance of taxpayers having to pony up for the misdeeds of the Chicago Police Department. (You may have missed this one earlier this month.)
But that was "yesterday."
Also, apparently Mendoza didn't talk to the student artist, his family or his art teacher (who says she gave him a book to use as a guide for the drawing's hands) before making her decision to pull the sticker. She did, however, consult with former police chief Jody Weis. Did she consult with the current police chief?
And, why couldn't the design simply be altered? The hands look weird anyway. Why not just show regular outstretched hands and fingers?
CPS announces it will remove forks from school lunchrooms because they are gang symbols.
Rahm upset at new city sticker because it shows a teacher as one of Chicago's Heroes.
New proposal: Different city stickers according to gang boundaries.
City agrees to let ThyssenKrupps sponsor city sticker. Oops!
More trouble: MLDs bought a stretch of highway to clean.
True Blue Blues
"Outside the Chicago metropolitan area, 56 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance," the Tribune noted about halfway in. Ouch.
Rich Miller expounds on that nettlesome finding today on his Capitol Fax Blog:
"The Tribune's latest poll shows President Obama, who split the Downstate vote with John McCain in 2008, is in bad shape in the region," Miller writes.
The fact that Obama split Downstate with McCain only reinforces the notion that states aren't blue or red; each is mixed almost equally and often along geographical lines.
A more accurate reading of the poll is that Chicago remains true blue for Obama, while the rest of the state doesn't. But that should be enough for the president to carry the state in the fall.
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Posted on February 10, 2012
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