For better or worse, Chicago has become wedded to the headlines. First it was the nomination and subsequent election of Chicago's favorite son, Barack Obama, as president. The celebration at Grant Park blew out all the stops on election night and helped the city finally get past the '68 riots that erupted in that same park during the Democratic National Convention.
Photos of the new First Family splashed across newspapers charming the entire world. The big topics being, "what kind of dog will the Obama girls pick?" and "where will they go to school?"
Happy, happy times for Chicago, but alas, the euphoria was short-lived.
Chicago has a history of running hot and cold--literally in their brutally cold, windy winters, and hot, humid summers--and in good news and bad news.
The first sign that the party was over came last week when workers refused to leave the Republic Windows and Doors plant after being told on Tuesday the plant would close on Friday. The company told the workers they had been denied a line of credit from Bank of America and couldn't pay the workers' severance and vacation pay.
However, on Friday the workers decided to take a stand and refused to leave. Most only make about $30,000 a year, but as one man said, "We need only what is promised to us, nothing more, nothing less."
Their plight and their spirit caught the attention of the country. The little guy fighting back against the behemoth Bank of America. Bank of America, the country's second largest bank just received a $25 billion bail-out and wouldn't renew and extend credit to a small company so that 240 employees could keep their jobs.
Finally, after five days of protest, B of A buckled under the bad publicity and said they would extend further credit to Republic Windows and Doors. Not because they felt any empathy for the workers or the plant, but because they didn't want the negative attention. It's all about them you know....and keeping their $25 billion.
The story put Chicago and the common laborer in the spotlight. I'm guessing this may be the first of many such protests across the country and these Chicago folks will serve as the catalyst.
But the best, or worst, was yet to come. At dawn on Tuesday morning, FBI agents arrested Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris on a wide range of corruption charges.
In Chicago, it appears there are really, really good politicians and really, really bad politicians. Obama, coming into his inauguration with the highest approval rating of any recent president is one of the really, really good ones.
Blagojevich on the other hand, after basically putting Obama's vacant Senate seat up for sale is one of the really, really bad ones. He pretty much takes the cake on corruption.
Chicago is no stranger to political scandals, and it crosses political lines. In fact, Blagojevich, a Democrat, replaced Republican Gov. George Ryan after his conviction for corruption in 2003. Ryan is now serving a six and a half year prison term. Of the 10 Illinois governors who have served over the last 50 years, Blagojevich is the fifth to be charged with criminal conduct. (L.A. Times)
I wonder if there is a special area in the Illinois penitentiary just for ex-governors?
As a tribute to its corruptness, Chicago has more FBI units to investigate corruption than any other city in the nation. Not exactly a Chamber of Commerce designation.
"Welcome to Chicago, Corrupt Capital of the Country!"