Lunch is free—thanks to the 32nd Ward | Bleader

Lunch is free—thanks to the 32nd Ward


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Frank Coconate
  • Frank Coconate
I’m sitting in the Lincoln Restaurant, stuffing my face with a feta-cheese-and-spinach omelet and a little Greek toast on the side—washed down with a tall, cool glass of chocolate milk.

Ah, delicious. Nothing quite as refreshing as a tall, cool glass of chocolate milk.

And best of all, it’s free. As in the guy sitting across the table is picking up the check.

Waitress—another round of chocolate milk. For the house!

That other guy is Frank Coconate, the internationally famous sex symbol, former city (now county) worker, and political operative.

In this case, Frank’s buying me lunch 'cause I whupped his butt in a bet. I’m always making bets. It starts with a conversation about sports and/or politics, turns into an argument, which turns into a bet. Usually, the stakes are no higher than lunch—the loser’s treat.

Sometimes I get suckered into making bets I should know better than to make.

Like the time last year that a certain publicist we’ll call Owen Kilmer suckered me into betting that the Bulls would beat the Heat in the playoffs.

It all came down to game five, which I still haven't got over.

I wound up having to treat Owen to dinner at a downtown chophouse, where he worked his way through appetizers, wine, steak, coffee, and dessert. Had to pawn my watch to pay the bill.

Back to Frank…

Our bet had to do with the all-important race for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman. That’s the one where incumbent John Fritchey faced a challenge from Alderman Scott Waguespack.

Waguespack and Fritchey used to be allies. Then they had a falling-out. Not quite sure even they know why.

Bottom line—they were going to use the committeeman’s race to settle things once and for all.

In separate conversations, I told them I didn’t think the race would happen. I predicted one or the other would drop out. And they both told me—no way. At least they agree on something.

Frank also said no way. Hence, three bets.

In any event, Fritchey dropped out. So Waguespack running unopposed. Thus, I win my bets!

Fritchey said he really had no choice but to drop out. With the recent ward boundary changes, he might not even reside in the ward, if he were to move to a new apartment.

Fair enough.

Here’s the thing: If he were to run against Waguespack, Fritchey would have hammered hard at the alderman’s newly found allegiance with Mayor Emanuel.

In the old days, Waguespack actually dared to vote against the really dumb ideas that Mayor Daley came up with.

In the new day, Waguespack routinely votes for most of the really dumb ideas Mayor Emanuel comes up with—like, just to pick one, cutting money for libraries.

And wasting untold millions on the G8/NATO summits.

Wait, that’s two dumb ideas. My bad.

Ordinarily, I’d rip Waguespack for supporting Mayor Rahm’s dumb ideas. But I’m giving him a one-year dispensation for leading the ill-fated charge against Mayor Daley's parking meter deal.

Which, I think we’ll all agree, is the dumbest of all the dumb ideas that either mayor has come up with.

Though the G8/NATO thing may eventually give it a run for its money.

As you can see, my aldermanic tolerance is pretty high mostly because my aldermanic expectations are so low.

Back to the 32nd Ward….

Personally, I believe that someone from the administration—maybe even the mayor himself—called Fritchey to talk him out of the race.

But Fritchey tells me no calls were made.

So what do I know?

All in all, you can say there are four winners in this thing. Waguespack for getting to be committeeman. Fritchey for saving his campaign money. Mayor Emanuel for avoiding be criticized in yuppie land. And me.

Yo, Scott and John. Don’t forget—you still owe me lunch!

Chocolate milk for everyone!