Tuesday, February 3, 2015

On the Way to Work This Morning 2/3/15

In Chicago, snowstorms and politics intertwine, especially just a few weeks ahead of an election.

It's been that way at least since 1979, when a blizzard slammed the city and the city, in response, did a truly terrible job of clearing the main streets. And the side streets? Unless you had cross-country skis or a snowmobile, you weren't going anywhere.

Three weeks later, Chicago held its primary for mayor. In what was then a substantial shock, the incumbent, Michael Bilandic--a former alderman who'd been selected by the city council to fill out the remainder of the term of Richard J. Daley, who died of a heart attack just before Christmas in 1976--was handily defeated by Jane Byrne, a relative newcomer who used the city's incompetent response to the blizzard against Bilandic. (Her campaign commercial, shot outdoors while a light flurry fell in the background, was wonderfully subtle--and effective.)

The city's response this time around was better: The mains stayed relatively clear throughout the storm, which finally wound down in the wee hours of Monday morning. Side streets, however, remained a mess--and, in some cases, impassible--well into Monday evening.

Will some voters blame the current mayor, Rahm Emanuel, for this? Sure will. Then again, he's not all that popular in Chicago for a host of other reasons, most especially for the closure of 50 public schools, most located on the south and west sides (which, by coincidence, are predominantly African-Ameican) and for his outright hostility to unions, some of which endorsed him for re-election (go figure).

But on a purely physical level, the storm has an effect on the primary, if only because candidate signage (such as the sign pictured above for 33rd Ward aldermanic candidate Tim Meegan) has been covered in several feet of snow.

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