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Timing is everything

Image: PV Bella

In comedy, timing is everything. The 50 strong comedy troupe in the Chicago City Council are up for a yearly raise tied to the Consumer Price Index. This year it is 5.5%, approximately $6000. They have until September 15th to decide whether to accept or reject the raise. 

Alderpersons not only make six-figure salaries for what is, by definition, a part-time position, but they also have expense accounts, health care benefits and are eligible for pensions if the gullible voters reelect them a few times.

There is no prohibition on alderpersons holding other full or part-time employment, owning businesses, or practicing professions. Some of those professions have conflicts of interest, like property tax reduction attorneys.

Full-time city employees do not have annual raises tied to the Consumer Price Index. They must show up, putting in a 40-hour week. Their unions fight for years to get paltry 2-3% annual raises. Here is a novel idea, all municipal employees should get annual raises tied to the Consumer Price Index, just like the City Council. If it is good enough for the alderpersons, it should be good enough for city employees.

The timing? Citizens of this city, AKA voters, are still struggling from the economic carnage caused by COVID-19. They will not get 5.5% raises along with Rolls Royce benefits and expense accounts. Many are still unemployed or underemployed. The homeless population exploded during the pandemic.

Most citizens in this city have no idea what their alderpersons, do if anything, to “earn” such generosity. They are accountable to no one. There is no transparency. 

Alderpersons are not public servants. They are lords and ladies of the manor, dining at a royal banquet. We are paying the tab.

Many alderpersons cry poor, even those who have lucrative professional practices. They have mouths to feed, tuition payments, mortgages, the same expenses us peons have.  We get by, barely sometimes. We settle for orts while they get the whole hog with sides and a dessert of apple pie in the sky with ice cream and a cherry on top. There is a reason why many refer to them as aldercreatures or aldercritters.

It is past time for the citizens of this city to be outraged. During this Summer Olympics of Violence, few alderpersons demanded action. Not one harshly criticized Superintendent David O. Brown or State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for their epic failures. They are silent until the payola comes around. Then, you can hear them loudly rooting, grunting, and snorting.

There will be no scathing editorials from the friendly news media in Chicago. They went mute a long time ago. They play well with the politicians. It is inappropriate for the news media to criticize political failure unless politicians get caught with their grubby hands in the cookie jar by the feds.

When the news media was fearless and relentless, they would get their hackles up, scream, and demand change. That was in quaint olden times when slaying dragons was acceptable, and dragon slayers were heroes. 

In our new age of genteelness, it is a kindergarten world. The Chicago Way is go along to get along. Play well with others. If you play nice, you might get a dog biscuit. If you are a bad little puppy, you get slapped around like a hockey puck.

Demanding change from elected officials is futile. If the friendly news media turns on them, they may- may, being the operative word- change their stripes. Do not count on those oh-so-appropriate news media purple dinosaurs to do anything. They are all, “I love you. You love me….”

During the pandemic, most people had to take a haircut. People have been unemployed for over a year and a half. The alderpersons got paid whether they showed up or not. While citizens suffer, they keep feeding at the trough.

It is a pity we just sigh and put up with this municipal malfeasance. There is no we the people in Chicago. The people merely provide the slop.

Lest I forget, this is what we are paying for.  

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