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Best election that never happened

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Rahm Emanuel versus Karen Lewis

She led a Chicago Teachers Union that put tens of thousands of people in the street for a week, giving organized labor its greatest victory of the twenty-first century. Somehow Karen Lewis, a former teacher and wife of a teacher, was able to unite the poor, African Americans, labor and reformers and face down Rahm Emanuel, a millionaire mayor who was virtually handpicked by President Obama and the Daley Machine. She was preparing to challenge him again in this past February’s mayoral election. Only the tragic onset of a brain tumor took away her chance, and Chicago’s best opportunity for, if not a new government, at least a competitive election. Fortunately, she’s back in the saddle, so get ready for another showdown.

Best of Chicago 2015

Best part of the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan most likely to actually happen

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The return of art education to the public schools
And indeed this has already happened, flanked by Yo-Yo Ma and Renee Fleming at a buzz-generating press conference, Rahm Emanuel announced an additional 120 minutes of arts education per week under the Arts Education Plan. Now let’s just hope that continues into 2013 when the Chicago Public Schools system faces a $1 billion shortfall.

Best of Chicago 2012

Best opening paragraph of an imaginary staff memo from Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Audience Choice, City Life No Comments »

Dearest Motherfuckers, You make my daily life possible and you sometimes make it misery. I am grateful. I am blessed. Young, bright, inventive, tolerant, understanding, flexible, ever-seeing, never sleeping, every last one of you, you keep my public image what it needs to be even in goddam fucking hard times like these latest days. But, and this is one huge, big buttfucking but, if one of you little twentysomething ratfuckers betrays your bought-and-still-not-fucking-paid-for post-collegiate education and puts that fucking goddam, and I mean Fucking Goddam, parmesan-infused Orville Fuckingbacher in the sonofabitching Sixth Floor microwave one more suck-and-fucking Friday, there will be unholy butthurt to pay. Count on it like the precious pennies I’m peeling from your pension check even as you speed-read to the next paragraph like the fan-fucking-tastic little monsters you are. Don’t even get me started on whatever little twat-drip keeps bringing that catshitty-smelling tuna salad into my olfactory range.

Audience choice: Fuck all of you, you fucking fucks.
(Or any variation of a sentence constructed with abundant variants of the word “fuck.” Wow, our mayor does not inspire the muse.)

Best of Chicago 2012

Best of Chicago 2011: Letter from the Editor

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Illustration by Lilli Carré

All for the best

It’s less than a year since the farewell that changed the face of the city, the visage we’d shown the world for a generation, and it already feels like a different town, doesn’t it? After all, Rosie’s taken to her new Chicago-ness with the relish of an ecstatic newcomer, homesteading in Lakeview, popping up in all the right gay bars and generally reminding us that Oprah long ago transcended us, becoming a citizen of the planet even as she still blessed us with her presence. Oh, and that other game-changing retirement’s kicking up a fair bit of dust, as well, as Rahm redefines the mayor’s office. Here’s what we’ve noticed: while Richie was always one of them, an insular member of Chicago political royalty who seemed to operate with their own code, Rahm seems like one of us. He shows up at rock concerts, at theater openings, at triathlons. He takes the el. We even know a guy who says he bumped into him at a quiet little bar before the election. You didn’t bump into Richie. Read the rest of this entry »

Best sign that Rahm is not Richie

Audience Choice, City Life, Loop No Comments »

The return of the Queen’s Landing crosswalk

The Daley administration made a number of anti-pedestrian “dick moves” in a losing battle against auto congestion: fencing off crosswalks on Michigan Avenue, shortening walk-signal times and adding right-on-red arrows for cars. But the kicker was the 2005 removal of the stoplight and crosswalk at Queen’s Landing, where in 1959 the city rolled a red carpet across Lake Shore Drive so Queen Elizabeth II could stroll from the lakefront to Buckingham Fountain. While the removal saved motorists a minute or two of wait time, it forced walkers to take a ten-minute detour. As part of a wave of pedestrian improvements under Emanuel, the city reinstalled the crosswalk on Thanksgiving Day—definitely something to give thanks for.

500 South Lake Shore

Audience choice: He speaks coherently

Best audience comments: “Seeing Rahm’s ass on the Brown Line every morning with his security detail. Daley would NEVER have done that”; “He can’t have all his fingers in the pie, can he?”; “He was at the Adele concert at the Riv”; “That 50-0 budget approval vote. Oh, wait.”

Best of Chicago 2011

Best mayoral campaign slogan for Rahm

Audience Choice, Category, City Life No Comments »

“Read Between The Lines”
One of the many gifts the former Representative, Freddie Mac board member, investment banker and White House Chief of Staff is known for is a capacity for profane bluster. He’s even got a strange gift of negative capacity: his right middle finger is half-missing. (President Obama has joked that this makes it difficult for Rahm to talk with his hands.) Emanuel’s not unconscious of the feature: on the cover of the Tribune when he offered their board an extended interview, designer, photographer and subject all offered up a casually crossed-hands pose featuring the void. But cross him? You will be reading between the lines. While there’s an official Twitter account, @RahmEmanuel, the id’s best, swearingest ideas come from the nameless Twitterer at @MayorEmanuel, who noted recently, “the fucking finger fucks me on Skeeball.”

Audience choices:

Rahm Emanuel
“Rahm It, Chicago”

James Meeks
“The Meeks Shall Inherit The City”

Miguel Del Valle
“What the hell, vote Miguel”

Carol Moseley Braun
“Remember me?”

Danny Davis
“Everybody loves Double D!”

Gery Chico
“Chico is the Man”

Best of Chicago 2010

Best candidate for mayor who is likely to run

Audience Choice, Category, City Life No Comments »

It’s a real problem for all of us that so much attention is being paid to attempts to force Rahm Emanuel off the ballot over the residency issue. Most thinking Chicagoans would agree that he is one of us, for better or for worse. It’s especially unfortunate given the relatively short amount of time we have to get to know the candidates, even the so-called leading candidates, before we have to vote. The mainstream media has the opportunity to really play a role in this election, more so than in any in recent memory, as we sort out the candidates and learn about their approaches to the issues the city faces. So far, the media’s failing, with Rahm anointed as the residency-challenged front-runner and all others fighting for oxygen. We do like Rahm so far, for his role in the Democratic leadership and his reputation for getting things done. We’re cheered by his legacy as a ballet dancer and what that might mean for the arts. But Gery Chico especially intrigues us too, with his experience and his out-front and detailed ideas about fixing education. We want to know more about Miguel del Valle, Danny Davis and yes, Carol Moseley Braun, in regards to their vision and specific ideas for the city. We do know one thing, however. We’ll pass on James Meeks for his outspoken leadership against civil unions. Putting a homophobe in City Hall would be a major step backward.

Audience choice:
Rahm Emanuel

Best of Chicago 2010