Chicago Values: A Tale of Two Rahms

In my never ending quest to discover Chicago values (and at the same time anger the most powerful man in the city state country state), this hot shot reporter stumbled across a Tuesday morning story ablaze across the airwaves.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

This little gem sits at the corner of Clark and Ontario on the near North side. It advertises another one of now countless internet dating sites, but this one has a special twist: it matches women who need money with men who have money.

“So,” you ask, smartassedly, “like a pimp?”

No, smartass reader, not like a pimp. Because that would make those women prostitutes, whereas these women are just accepting money for sexual acts. So of course this website, affiliated the infamous Ashley Madison, is certainly on the up and up.

The subtlety of the title of the website is overwhelming. Arrangement just screams romance. There couldn’t be a more casual way to state it other than (If that really goes somewhere, I did not send you there).

The website has since explained that there reasoning for advertising in Chicago is due to the high unemployment in the city. I want you to really think about this message. “Hey unemployed women, the world’s oldest profession is still an option.” The overwhelming sexism at play is mollified only by Bree Olson’s seemingly outraged face (some sort of o-face).

But Thursday morning, Rahm Emanuel came out with a hardline stance against the internet-pimps (possibly robot pimps…) saying “Arrangement Finders’ values do not represent Chicago values.”

Oh wait, no. That was Chick-fil-a, that notorious poultry peddler, who dared to try to open a restaurant while holding opinions on marriage that differed from Rahm’s. What he really said about the prostitution ring putting up the billboard in the heart of the city was:

Look, we have a First Amendment. You usually operate under it. There are certain things you say I don’t think appropriate also. But that said, I’m not gonna respond to that because I haven’t seen it. You’re just reading it to me. But we do have a First Amendment, and I’ve got to take a look into it.

The mayor, flabbergasted, explained that we have a First Amendment. Usually. It’s as if he’s aware of the double standard as he says it. So lets recap. A prostitution website from the makers website specifically for adulterers? Protected by the First Amendment. A company with a CEO who supports traditional marriage? Not the right values.

Perplexing? It should be. The only question left is how Rahm would react if Mcdonalds donated to a charity funding a website for gay marriage adulterers (it could happen!).

In the press conference, when the billboard was first brought up, Rahm claimed he hadn’t seen it, so he couldn’t speak about it. Nor had he met S. Truet Cathy, Chick-fil-a’s CEO, before he made the judgment call that he was wrong. But luckily in this day and age, a reporter was able bring up a photo on his smart phone immediately so Emanuel couldn’t rely on his ignorance as an out. His reaction?

You are a living example of why people should not have either smartphones or technology.

What? Explain that one to me, Rahm. If you truly hadn’t heard about it yet, it seems like a reporter the exact person to have that technology (you know, reporting and all), and you could probably use one, too. That way you could narrow the time between hearing something and having a knee-jerk reaction based on what can only be described as bizarro values.

Brian Gross is looking to make an arrangement. Looking for a discreet, often funny columnist? Then follow this blog and let your friends know (he’s not just a one-reader type of reporter).




2nd Congressional District of Illinois Open, Apply Today!

Not Pictured: Jackson imagining what your brains taste like.
Not Pictured: Jackson imagining what your brains taste like.

Due to the mounting pressure from this outlet , Representative Jesse Jackson has stepped out of his shiny 2nd  Congressional Seat. Jackson’s recently purchased won seat will be filled by a Special election in April 2013. Which is perfect timing, because between now (or more like 6 months ago) and that election, Illinois’ 2nd District won’t be represented by an out-of-touch wackjob. After the election, well, I hate to say it, but it seems like competency is frowned about in Illinois politics.

Special elections have an interesting effect in the Illinois. The island of misfit politicians clears out, all the Democrats who, somehow, couldn’t find a seat in what could only be describe as a massacre of Republicans, start clamoring and salivating at the opportunity to run in what I can only imagine will be humor gold.

Why do they want this District so badly? (An opportunity to fairly and impartially represent those fine Illinoisans? Gotcha) Because it is gerrymandered so severely that it took the lion’s share of Cook county, Chicago’s district. Jesse Jackson Jr. won with 63% of the vote while experiencing a scandal in which no one could find him. He did not campaign (most advisors would suggest not to talk, anyways), he was not in Illinois. He won. In a landslide. Which he rode for a few days before stepping down, costing the taxpayers millions for the special election.

Here’s the thing. I truly believe that, if he ran in the special election, he’d win. After trying to buy a Senatorship. He’d win. In a landslide. It’s that Blue of a district. So yeah, it’s a nice place for an incompetent Democrat to park themselves for the next thirty years.

One of the goon squad tripping over themselves at the prince’s throne is Mel Reynolds, the candidate Congressman Jackson won the seat from in a 1995 special election. That’s right folks, you read that correctly, a man who stepped down in disgrace (such disgrace that Jesse Jackson Jr. was a better choice), is now offering to take back his old seat. (The benefit? You know exactly what you’re voting for). Cook County Jail apparently has a revolving door.

"And I said to her 'This long.' And I guess that's when things got weird."
“And I said to her ‘This long.’ And I guess that’s when things got weird.”

Why’d Mel step down in the first place? Oh, just mortgage fraud. And campaign funds fraud (sounds familar). And sleeping with a 16 year old female staffer. Because those things are apparently no longer career enders. (The scandals, not the staffers).

Mel, whose campaign slogans involve such classics as “Redemption” and “So He Can Finish the Work,” which very well might be code, (Watch out, staffers!), says that he was not convicted to a life sentence. Which is to say “I got over that time when I sexually assaulted a minor. Why can’t you?”

Another such gooner is Debbie Halverson, who hasn’t seen an election she didn’t like (and lose handily). Debbie was notoriously ousted after the brutal 2010 election against Adam Kinzinger. Halverson’s attempt to take the momentum in the election?

You saw it right, folks, a comical rabble of protestors comparing Kinzinger, a veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, to a Nazi alongside Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. But to compound the ineptitude, the faux-protestors walked directly back to Halverson’s campaign headquarters, inexplicably in a building with a glass wall, not checking for those guys who were just a minute ago video-taping them. It’s not the crime which is offensive in Illinois, it’s the laziness.

Bringing up the pack is Donne Trotter (who?), Illinois State Senator. How does he get the honorable mention? Well, knowing that he is being outgunned (this is a pun. Just wait, it comes up later) by his already disgraced opponents, he decided to play it safe and get himself in a scandal early by bringing a loaded firearm (Puntastic) into O’Hare Airport on Wednesday, Dec 5th. Donne may have realized that a prison sentence is the reward for a career in the 2nd and that he just couldn’t wait.

The scary thought is that one of these people, or others from the score of grossly unqualified candidates who have stepped forward, will be invested with real power. The funny thought is that we get to watch them duke it out until then.

Brian Gross considers him just grossly unqualified enough to be your humor writer (and don’t worry, staffers, he’s not packing heat). Help him out by passing this article along to someone who likes laughing at tragedies like Illinois Politics.

In Case You Missed It: Representative Jesse Jackson So Cray-Cray

First off, forgive my absence. With Paul Ryan’s busy schedule in the campaign, I was recruited to stand in for the quarterly Vast Right Wing Conspiracy meeting. I had to propose our new tactics for the War on Women (outlawing pantsuits) and talk Richard Nixon’s ghost out of destroying our puny mortal constructs… for now. And the continental breakfasts were exquisite.

Once our nefarious network signed its peace treaty with the Legion of Doom, I hopped on the first Antartica to Indy direct flight and opened my digital newspaper for the first time in weeks. So you can imagine my entire cup of coffee spit-take from reading that Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. is still in the race for Illinois’ Second Congressional District.

As a representation of the character of the man, when you Google Jesse Jackson Jr., the list of related people includes Rod Blagojevich (who is currently trying to sell an open Shower stall to the highest bidder) and Debbie Halverson (who, after being connected to a fake rally calling American Hero and all-round Swell Guy Adam Kinzinger a Nazi, has become as close as Political Aids as you can get). You also get Sandi Jackson, who I think was the only other talented one of the Jackson 5 (wait, what?).

Why is this such a big deal as to spit out an entire cup of coffee (don’t worry, 5 more still on the pot), you ask? Foremost, Jesse Jackson Jr. (or Triple J, when he professionally wrestles) has been officially absent from his position as Illinois Representative since June 10th on Medical Leave.

Voter, you’re the boss, they are the civil servant. Are you ever unsure if your employee should keep his job? I think a good rule of thumb is if, in the exact same position, the employee has been absent from his job for over 5 months, then no. They don’t sound capable of doing it.

But Jackson is still in it, his wife and father claim. Js on Js on Js’ medical leave has been revealed to be related to Bipolar Depression. Real mental illness is absolutely no laughing matter, and the stigma of mental illness has long lasting and deep effects. At the same time, however, I’ll be putting on my scrubs for a segment I’d like to call Grossness, M.D.

Grossness, M.D. is professional doctor of political ailments and has absolutely no regard for patient confidentiality. 

Let’s first look at what brought on the symptoms.

1. JJJ is under investigation for his connection to the whole trying to sell a Senatorship thing by Blago. Medical tip: if your name is often said in the same sentence as Rod Blagojevich, you’re probably guilty of something, even if it is just keeping terrible company. And with Rod sitting in lock-up and probably talking to the Feds, I would doubt they are barking up a useless tree.

2. At the same time, a Federal Probe has been launched into JJJ’s possible abuse of campaign money. Specifically on spending it on himself, which I hear is frowned upon.

3. His wife, Sandi Jackson, faces scrutiny under charges that she doesn’t actually live in Chicago. Not living in Chicago wouldn’t be a problem (more like a sign of some common sense) except that she is an Alderman of the city, and kinda has to live there. Reports allege that she lives in their D.C. suburb home and commutes via plane, often attending meetings with the suitcases in hand.

4. All this is compounded by the number of media outlets rescinding their earlier endorsements of the Congressman who has spent 17 years in the House. When Chicagoans smell blood in the water and start backing off en masse, its like a pack of rats scurrying for holes: there’s a reason for it (Political Aids).

Who can blame the Congressman for being depressed then, when facing at best an end to his political career and at worst an end to his not-being-in-jail career? Though I have limited sympathy units, and generally try to reserve them for people not afflicted by their own doing: Jackson’s bipolar depression sounds a lot like a guilty conscience. Not the type where you feel guilty for what you did, mind you, but when you’re just afraid you got caught.

Dr. Grossness’s prescription? A long break from Chicago politics, and definitely don’t go out drinking in D.C. with strange women… Wait, never mind that. But at least, when you claim that you are attending treatment twice a day from the Mayo Clinic and go to a bar on Tuesday and Wednesday, represent your god-damned district and at least go to Chicago bar.

HisGrossness, M.D., has been diagnosing and treating Political Aids for months now, and is happy to be back at it. I’ve gotten tons of love these last few weeks from fans and it means a lot to me. So you keep reading and I’ll keep giving politics the business. 

Bad Jailhouse Math Blues

The State of Illinois is a meth-addicted 12-year-old son with your credit card: absolutely no fiscal sense whatsoever, but you love them too much to abandon them on the side of the road like you ought to.

So it is for me, watching my former state borrow, swindle, and sell their way into an incredibly deeper hole. And all the while, Governor Pat Quinn and his Goon Squad actually think they are at least treading water. As I’ve already shown that the higher leadership in Chicago doesn’t understand math, it is up to reformed-Hoosier and math-novice Brian Gross (#hisgrossness) to set things straight.

Take the recent sale of the Thomson Correctional Facility on the far border with Iowa (which is an ingenious location. Tell the prisoners that they are surrounded by a sea of corn and the occasional obnoxious Iowa State Fan and they’ll be clamoring to stay in). The State of Illinois recently sold the prison, which was not being used, for $165 million, to the U.S. Federal Government. Perfect, get some liquidity for unused state facilities, sounds like another state I know (#Windiana).

But let’s look at the numbers. The Prison was built in 2001 for $140 million. Cool $25 mil profit, right? Well, no, because $140 million 2001 dollars are worth $181,575,172.41 (inflation is a b*tch). So immediately it’s more like a $16 mil loss. And how much does it cost just to maintain an empty prison? If it’s anything more than negative moneys, the total loss is much higher.

Furthermore, the Thomson Prison was valued at $220 million. For those of you playing at home, that is in fact more than $165 million. Pat Quinn, are you writing all this down? Someone get him a calculator.

Am I mad at the Obama administration for swindling the state out of a great facility just because Obama is buddies with Dick Durbin? No, because who can blame him, or anyone, for taking such a great deal. I feel like I can start offering cash for the Bean and see if they bite.

Quinn said to reporters, “I think we ought to pay our bills with that money.” Well I’ll be damned. What bills, Pat, you mean the bill for the unused prison? Our meth-addicted son just hocked his $300 guitar for $200 and calls it gain. Can you tell the difference?

Currently, Illinois’s unpaid bills total $8.5 Billion. The sale of the prison probably won’t cover the interest of that debt for twenty minutes.

As a fiscal move, I decided against building a prison and then selling it. I didn’t lose the State’s taxpayers $16 million. Can I have some of that money I saved?

In the end, the wind bags in Springfield will mark this down as their fiscally disciplined good deed for the year and pat themselves on the back as they keep on mortgaging Illinoisians’ futures. In the meantime, get in while the getting is good: let’s start the bidding on the rest of Illinois’ infrastructure!

Brian Gross

Brian is an escaped Illinoisian, and so can you! He is offering refuge to runaways, just read his posts and tell everyone about it.

CTU Strikes Back

“Karen Lewis has got to get paid, son” -CTU President Karen Lewis.

Post this one in the “Grosser called it” column.

On Sunday at midnight, the Chicago Teachers Union declared that they were walking away from negotiations and going on strike, leaving the Chicago Public Schools holding the bag (full of uneductated children).

Classic labor versus capitalist pig bosses, right? Well, no. This isn’t the Wisconsin teachers against Gov. Scott Walker, an ideological fight between parties. Chicago is a city almost solely run by Democrats. Illinois is primarily blue. The Governor is a Democrat. Hometown of Barack Obama. Even the bums are prescreened for political affiliation (but if you’re looking for handouts, you’re probably already a democrat. Am I right, folks?)

You know things are dire in Chicago when, in a labor debate, I’m rooting for Rahm Emanuel (no, really, Rahmmy, I’m with you.)

Democrats are the friends of big labor, Democrats are the ones who talk about stripping away No Child Left Behind, paying teachers generous sums, revamping schools, pumping money into education. That’s what I thought, at least while Democrats are opposition.

And being the opposition is what Democrats do best. They have wonderful ideas for forming a eutopic society, free of guns, crime, with happy teachers in every classroom and students who can read good in some of them. Also no one is fat.

When it comes to implementation, however, we get to see the math behind the theory. (Spoil alert: it doesn’t work). But in summation, Chicago Public Schools are staring down the barrel of a 1 ba-ba-billion shortfall next year. So of course, the teachers want their cut.

Negotiations broke down over a few contention points: salary increases, school day length, number of teachers, teacher evaluations and job security. So surely Rahm spat on a piece of paper, offered it, and told them to get to work, right?

No, unfortunately, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is no Gov. Chris Christie. Here are the things that were offered when the teachers walked from the table:

1. 16% pay increase over 4 years, jumped from the original offer of 2%.

2. 477 new teachers to be hired to increase art classes and relieve some of the burden on teachers on the lengthened day.

3. Guarantee that high school teachers would only teach 5 classes in a day.

4. Guarantee that laid off teachers would get 12 months pay as well as an interview for any openings.

This atop the fact that teachers are making on average $76,000 a year. Or, more precisely, $76,000/9mos, because working year-round is not mandatory.

Folks at home, struggling to pay the bills (Recessionites, I like to call ourselves), collect your jaws. You have to understand where the teachers are coming from when they turned down such a fabulous deal.

These benefits all mean nothing without stripping principals of the power to remove failing teachers and regulate teacher evaluations. Because surely you would not fault them, having all this cake, to eat it too. They set themselves up a cushy deal where they are only expected to pass around 60%, hardly half of those students at grade level, and you can’t think they wouldn’t secure themselves in position.

Karen Lewis has claimed that the new teacher evaluation system will lead to as many as 6,000 teachers being laid off. Rahm has replied that that number is obviously exaggerated and that he apparently has more confidence in the teachers than CTU. I say, sucks to suck, teachers.

Again, we here at Republican Funk love teachers. We think its a challenging, noble profession that demands self sacrifice and eats up the rest of your life. That said, its easy to pick out the slime that clearly isn’t doing it for the challenge or for the love of the children.

So to watch CTU teachers imitating Occupy Wallstreet tactics, marching into the streets, flaunting the facts that they want more when some don’t have any is downright heartbreaking. Especially for the parents who are suddenly left with their kids, many of whom have two working parents, watching these teachers purposefully interrupt Loop trains and marching up and down streets mid-rush hour traffic.

The strike has also pitted Rahm against former boss and Chicago’s son Barack Obama, who has kept silent during the ongoings but has previously voiced support for CTU. While campaigning for his job back, it wouldn’t serve Obama well to be caught on either side, but Emanuel’s tacet ties with the administration strain Obama’s attempts to stay in the middle ground.

Rahm Emanuel has already insisted on returning students to the classrooms and negotiators to the table. (I don’t know if Karen Lewis can take any more of that marching around). Students are still out of the classrooms as of Thursday with rumors of a possible return to classes on Friday. Time will tell, but Grosser can guess.

Teacher Strike Results:

Rahm puts a forbearance on the implementation of the new teacher evaluation, classes resume mid-next week, teachers grumble enough to force negotiations again in two years, and we deal with this again. Oh, and maybe Karen Lewis gives Jimmy Hoffa a visit under Jets Stadium for having angered Rahm.

The worst result from the strike? (No, not the uneducated kids, they are already not getting taught while in school) this forced Rahm Emanuel into becoming an accidental Republican. Fighting big labor? Advocating school choice? Getting support from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for your stance? Expect your placard and edible arrangement soon, Rahmmy, and I’ll teach you the secret Republican handshake if you just meet me over the border where it’s safe.

Chicago Mayor Tries New Approach To Combat Crime: Scold Crime

One more murder, Chicago, and you’re going to bed with no dinner.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made headlines Tuesday in an interview with CBS Evening saying that the murder problem in Chicago “is about values.” Shortly after, he reprimanded the Sun for being so hot, reportedly saying “come on, man, this isn’t who you are.”

Only one of those is true, while both make me laugh. But the flippancy is well-intended: is this the point we have reached? Is Chicago so doomed that we are relying the mayor’s wag of his finger? If I knew that this was the plan, I’d sooner have voted for a Jewish mother, who at least has the training to deal with the situation. (You’re still a gang banger? You know, your cousin is a lawyer and he’s very successful.)

Glibness aside, it’s a scary result of an even scarier situation. I’ll have to check my numbers on this, but my understanding is that the mortality rate in Chicago is so high that it is more dangerous to be in the city than to be in Iraq. It is only slightly less dangerous than being in outerspace with no suit. I believe we’re at 275 murders this year, but I think the guy who counts the murders just got murdered so I could be off a few.

Emanuel evidently believes he can turn them from the Dark Side, claiming “Don’t I don’t buy this case where people say they don’t have values. They do have values. They are the wrong values.” Unless “Being a Gangster” is a new value I did not hear about, then I do not see any evidence to support Emanuel’s theory. Selling drugs, robbing, killing, raping, encouraging young children to drop out of school to work for them, when did I miss the Vice-Lords having a church bake sale? When the Gangster Disciples hosted that 5k? What, in the history of Chicago gang-warfare, made Rahm think that all they needed was a stern talking to?

Here’s the truth of the situation: gang members have no values. Gangs crop up in areas with a large number of poor, disaffected youths who were never given any attention, let alone values. And all it takes is a successful, savy young gang member who, mirabile dictu, actually survived this poverty and has a way out for you, too. And with parents who love you for the welfare check, and with teachers willing to strike for a 30% payraise in a bankrupt city, this little attention is more than enough to win over a child into a gang that promises a better chance of success than anything else. And when that kid finally gets into his gang, his only real loyalty, with what he’s done to get there and has to do to stay, there no longer has the moral resonance that those of us inside society feel.

Emanuel is wasting his breath preaching values to a valueless section out of society. America has enough difficulty getting its law-abiding citizens to live with any values. We now express more surprise when celebrities can stay together than when they cheat on each other. Even Rahm “never let a serious crisis go to waste” Emanuel has the moral compass of Machiavelli.

If the mayor wants to talk about values, talk to the community. Every gang member has a mother and a father, a reverend, a teacher who at some point was commissioned with the task of integrating these people into society. At some point, they screwed that up, but it is not his job to fix. He was elected mayor, after all, not daddy.

To push his point, the Mayor asks the gang members rhetorically “Who raised you? How were you raised?” I do not think he really wants the answer, so here it is. These gang members were raised on the public dole, in a school system that graduates less than 50% of their students, and less than 30% at grade level. A school system that now supplies breakfast, lunch, and dinner because their parents will not feed them otherwise. They were raised on a welfare and food stamp program rivaled only by New York and L.A., so what’s the difference between taking a handout and taking from others? When did they learn, when did they ever have a chance to learn, to take care of themselves in a law-abiding manner?

“How were you raised?” In short, Rahm, by Chicago.