by Ben Joravsky
For Tuesday's big show—Karen Lewis live at the Hideout—they gave me the hand-held mike and told me to sit in the middle of the table.
Between my cohost, Mick Dumke, and Ms. Lewis, two rock stars of epic proportion.
Folks, let me tell you, I picked up that mike and was suddenly overwhelmed by an urge, almost uncontrollable, to break out my inner Robert Plant. That would be Led Zeppelin—circa 1971.
C'mon, all together: "It's been a long time since I rock and rolled . . ."
But, alas, I saw that crowd of faces in the audience, and I just couldn't pull the trigger.
Instead, I think I asked Ms. Lewis if she believed reefer should be legalized. Or something like that.
Other than me chickening out, the show was a rip-roaring success, if I do say so myself.
Ms. Lewis—president of the Chicago Teachers Union, if you didn't know—was in rare form, ripping Mayor Rahm about this, that, and the other thing.
When asked who should run against Rahm in next year's mayoral election, she said it didn't matter cause Bozo the Clown could beat him.
Which probably got the mayor so mad he had to be restrained from closing 50 more schools—just to show her!
She also opined on taxes, charters, reefer, gun violence, every subject under the sun. Dang, Karen Lewis, would you run against Rahm already. Just to make everything interesting.
On hand was Peter Holderness—videographer extraordinaire. Here's his footage, so you can watch the show yourself.
One of the evening's highlights—at least for municipal-financing geeks—came when she suggested a tax on transactions at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a substitute for hikes in the forever-escalating property tax.
That drew a lot of head nodding from the audience. Even though we all know that idea is dead as a doornail, as long as Mayor Emanuel has anything to do with it.
That got me thinking: Why is it that our elected officials so rarely support the stuff most Chicagoans want?
I know, I know. The crowd at the Hideout is not a precise profile of the city has a whole, as hard as that is to believe. Still, my bet is that it's more in tune with the average Chicagoan than Mayor Emanuel, ideologically speaking. Especially when it comes to raising money through a tax on the big exchanges, as opposed to Mayor E's policy of sticking it to the little guy with property taxes, user fees, and traffic fines—which he, of course, is exempt from.
(Once again, thank you Ben Bradley and Channel Seven for that insightful scoop on Mayor Emanuel running all those red lights.)
I'd go so far as to wager that Chicago's electorate is far more to the left than any of its mayors since, oh, Harold Washington. Who I wish were still alive—if only to be our guest at the Hideout.
In any event I remain delusionally optimistic that voters will come to their senses and elect someone who sort of represents their political views.
As opposed to electing Romney Republicans who would be at more home in Utah or wherever the mayor was skiing when he closed all those schools.
Hope to see you at the next Hideout show—that would be Tuesday, June 3.
Till then . . .
"It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time . . ."