by Ben Joravsky
The mayor says he did—or at least he thinks he did—but the people at his neighborhood school say he did not. Or at least, they didn't see him come in to vote.
Personally, I'm with the neighborhood school officials on this one because let's face it: Mayor Rahm's a hard guy to miss.
Local school councils are the boards of parents, community reps, and principals who run each school. Or supposedly run each school—the ceaseless erosion of their power is a whole other story.
On Wednesday, the grammar school LSCs had their elections. Hundreds of parents and communities residents got their chance to participate in the wonders of democracy. And, as we all learned in fifth-grade social studies, participating in democracy is one of our most sacred civic duties. Especially if you’re the mayor.
On Wednesday, Sam Hudzik, an incredibly enterprising WBEZ producer, caught up with Mayor Emanuel and asked if he'd voted in his LSC election.
Whoops, more explanation . . .
Yes, yes, Emanuel doesn't send his kids to public schools—so he can't vote for parent reps. But, like all citizens of Chicago, he's eligible to vote for the community reps in his LSC.
The ensuing Hudzik/Emanuel exchange went like this.
Emanuel: “You know what? I gotta get back to you and answer that. OK? I don’t know,”
Hudzik: “You don’t remember if you voted?”
Emanuel: “I voted, I voted. Yes, I did vote.”
Not that Lutton doesn't believe everything the mayor says, but . . .
She called the Ravenswood Elementary School, where Emanuel would have voted, and wound up talking to an employee who "said she hadn’t seen the mayor at the school Wednesday or heard that he’d been there to vote. An Emanuel spokesman did not return a call requesting clarification of whether Emanuel had voted or not—and why the mayor seemed confused about whether he had."
Hmmm . . .
As I see it, there are two leading explanations for the mayor’s confusion. He really could be getting forgetful as he gets older. Hey, it happens to us all.
In fact, it's happening to me. Not long ago I lay in bed, unable to sleep, because I couldn't remember the name of the secretary of state who came before Colin Powell. I know, I know—I'm weird. But that's not the point.
My point is that it's possible that Emanuel—like me—is just forgetting things. Like what he did an hour or so before he bumped into Hudzik.
A more likely theory is that the mayor had no idea how to answer Hudzik's question because he didn't know, much less care, that the LSC elections were on Wednesday. Or worse, he might not even have been certain what an LSC is!
In this case, it's a miracle he didn't respond to Hudzik by saying: Hama na hama na hama na.
Or whatever is that Ralph Kramden used to say when he didn't know what else to say.
See, people, this is just one of the many problems you created for yourself when you elected as your mayor a man who 1) has barely spent any time in your city; 2) has sort of made it clear he wants to get out as soon as he can; and 3) has absolutely no clue what he's doing.
Of course, it doesn't help that Emanuel hired out-of-towners who may know even less than he does about the school system they're running.
Like schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, who comes from New York. And chief education officer Noemi Donoso, who comes from Denver. And chief operating officer Tim Cawley, who lives in Winnetka. Even Greg Goldner—the political operative who helped rally black support for closing schools in black communities—is from Highland Park.
You know you're in trouble when your operative in Englewood comes from Highland Park! I guess the mayor couldn't find anyone from Winnetka to handle that job.
By the way, Linda Lutton was one of the first reporters to break the story about protesters getting paid to defend the mayor's school closings.
Man, she’s on a roll!
Here's an idea, Mayor Emanuel: Put her in charge of the schools. At least she knows something about them.
PS. Madeleine Albright was the secretary of state before Powell. Oh, don't act like you knew that.
PPS. Click on this to hear the mayor's remarks to Hudzik. Then decide for yourself.