Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't let the critics anger you Rosie O'Donnell, we all left, dumping Chicago long ago, too

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It's natural that some in Chicago will be angry that Rosie O'Donnell, the celebrity talk show host, decided to close up shop on Chicago's dumpy West Side and move her operations back to New York where her children live and her career will better flourish.

Chicago has a reputation for being a "jerk," if a "thing" can be described as being a "jerk" of any sort. The fact is Chicago as a city often acts like a jerk. It abuses its neighbors, exploits its visitors and doesn't even provide enough protection so that those who come to Chicago can feel safe. And in all that hodgepodge of failed civic responsibility, Chicago does a poor job of living up to its frequent boasts that it is a city of big shoulders that supports "diversity."

Just look at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration and you can see for yourself that the City of Chicago is far from diverse. It loves to talk about diversity but in the place of diversity, we have segments of the city's population that have been left outside the City Hall door on very cold nights, forgotten, abandoned and ignored.

, former White House Chief of StaffImage via Wikipedia
That's the real style of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But that pattern of poor leadership performance and unhospitable treatment of minorities and diversity didn't start with the rude and crude Mayor Emanuel. It's been like that for years. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley was probably the most welcome to diversity of any past mayor including the late Mayor Harold Washington, and even Daley didn't do enough.

But Daley did do something.

Like the rest of us, celebrity talk show host Rosie O'Donnell is abandoning Chicago's melting pot of failures to return to New York City where her children continue to live. She had settled into the building that once showcased the Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Studios, but Oprah also tired of all the hassles of dealing with Chicago.

Both Oprah and Rose are just to considerate to blame it all on Chicago. 

What does Chicago have to offer these days?


You can still get mugged on an early evening walking through the city's streets. More people are killed in Chicago on any given day than in the Middle East where violence has become a daily lifestyle.

Good service in Chicago has disappeared. In fact, does anyone say they expect good service from Chicago any more? No one cares about the schools. No one cares about the libraries. No one cares about the businesses. No one cares about the rag-tag CTA fleet of broken down, smog spewing buses. Just this week we learned that the CTA has been using broken, deficient parts in repairing its broken down bus network. And where do you think they buy the parts? From China, which of all the nation's in the world has the worst reputation for supplying dangerous toys to children and undependable parts and equipment for about almost anything. (Look at the iPad which is assembled poorly in China. They can't even keep one long enough for public use before they have to make another that improves the older iPads' deficiencies.)

Nevermind the other obstacles to the American Dream that Chicago has artificially erected to create havoc. The outrageous charges to park downtown -- parking sometimes costs more than a good dinner. The Red Light Cameras and the sneaky adjustments to reduce the Amber Light Display from 3 seconds to 2 seconds in order to "catch" motorists who are driving to and from work. Those tickets are an outrageous $100.

Meanwhile, as former Ald. Dick Simpson has clearly pointed out, Chicago remains the Corruption Capitol of American Politics. Chicago, even under Mayor Rahm "I'll Kick Your Ass" Emanuel, is the most corrupt place to live.

Oh the Chicago stooges are bashing Rosie for her decision to leave Chicago and the West Side where a person is about as safe as a little boy in the halls of a Catholic Church on a Friday night. Included among them is writer David W. Quinn who moved into Chicago on New's Day in 2011. Hey, he survived a lot longer than most suburbanites who try and fail to survive the rat-infested Chicago jungle.

But Quinn didn't mind throwing O'Donnell under the buss for living in Chicago only five months. I mean, she was the reason why he moved in? And, who cares that the bus she was thrown under is a dilapidated, defective and unreliable Chicago CTA cattle car made of aluminum, steel and all the care that a child laborer in China can put into a gear shift shield?

No slam against Quinn. But I will put up $100 that he eventually moves out, too. Maybe not right away. But he'll see the faded light through the Chicago smog of corruption, incompetence, lack of services and recognize that the only reason Chicago is Chicago is because they are living off of the taxes paid for by the hardworking suburbanites.

If he doesn't, he should. 

Quinn argues that Chicago didn't fail, Rosie did. But I argue that Rosie is just another victim of the dimmed marquee of Chicago's past, fueled by excessively charged, costly electricity and stale tasting Lake Michigan Water that costs an arm-and-a-leg for the suburbs to purchase. And more often than not, floating in the water is an arm-and-a-leg from some victim of rampant Chicago crime.

Years ago as a cub reporter at Chicago City Hall, I had this argument with the late Mike Royko. Royko pushed shoving it to the suburbs to bail out the then incompetent CTA transportation system. Imagine that! The CTA didn't just become a rickety-fleet of poor service just recently. It's been a bundle of "Oye" for decades. I remember Royko slamming me for trying to defend the suburbs, way back in 1982. I hadn't won any journalism awards back then. Jobs in journalism were available and a source of pride. The cost of living wasn't too bad and you could actually get to Chicago and spend most of your money enjoying a city attraction instead of on getting there, staying there and crawling out as fast as you can to safety. 

And Royko shook my hand at a Chicago Headline Club Lisagor Award's night which was held at the Ambassador East Hotel, saying to me quite sternly. "I read that you have been bashing my city Raymond." Royko said "Raymond" the way someone does when they are trying to lecture me into being nice to them in my own columns.

Royko then continued, "You're the only person Jay McMullen was ever right about."

Well, it sounded funny, of course. That was the Royko way. But it didn't make much sense, that's for sure. McMullen, the wooly-caterpillar husband of then Mayor Jane M. Byrne and former Daily News City Hall reporter before that, had threatened to punch me in the nose when I wrote a column in my suburban newspaper the Daily Southtown that said McMullen had turned to his wife to fight one of his battles before she became mayor, and his mayor was getting even with the county politician who had insulted him years before. McMullen didn't like the idea that he had to rely on any woman to fight his battles, especially the woman who was the most powerful in Chicago at the time.

And then Royko smiled and grabbed a copy of one of his books that I had in my arm, autographed it and handed it to me.

Yes, the Chicago-suburban rivalry has been going full steam for years. But these days, the suburbs have been so demeaned they have little respect left and shudder in the shadow of Chicago's bullying. To Chicago, which has never held any respect for the suburbs, New York is no different than any Chicago suburb. You are either with Chicago or without Chicago, kind of a George W. Bush-esque rephrasing of his simpleminded approach to international terrorism. (It didn't work, folks!)

So have a nice trip Rosie. You at least tried to make Chicago a go, which is more than I can say for the hypocrites in the mainstream Chicago media who don't live in Chicago at all and look down snobbishly and slam the suburbs that they don't live in. (At least Tribune blogger Quinn lives in Chicago. I give him credit for that.)

-- Ray Hanania

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